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Lecture: "Aufbruch und Umbruch. Walter Bosshard als Augenzeuge"

Apr 28, 2019 04:30 pm to 06:30 pm
Organiser: Völkerkundemuseum VPST, CATS
Völkerkundemuseum VPST, Haputstrasse 235, 69117 Heidelberg

Speaker: Peter Pfrunder, Swiss Foundation for photography


The Swiss photographer Walter Bosshard (1892–1975) was a pioneer in the field of photojournalism. A master of both the word and the camera, he made a name for himself as a bridge builder between Asia and Europe, reporting on key political events and daily life in Asia in the 1930s. Today, his photographs and films are a rich source of information for understanding global history. In a dream assignment by the Münchner Illustrierte Presse, Bosshard was sent to India to report on the growing unrest and the Independence movement. The highlight of this assignment was a story on Gandhi with photographs of the Mahatma in intimate situations. Eight years later, in the early summer of 1938, Walter Bosshard was facing an equally unique opportunity. Stationed in China at that time, he was the first European correspondent to encounter Mao Zedong in the remote city of Yan'an and to interview the leader of the communist movement. Bosshard's report appeared in Life and gave deep insight into a critical period of Chinese history.

Bosshard’s pictures of Gandhi and Mao are, on one hand, historic documents of resistance. On the other hand, they tell the story of the ascent from person to icon. But Bosshard’s works must also be seen in the context of the media environment of his time and are examples of visual representation. Key roles are played by the way the protagonists stylize themselves, the reporter’s ambition, the struggle for public attention, aesthetic design and attractive condensation of complex material.

The lecture will be held in the context of the vernissage of the exhibition "Envisioning Asia: Gandhi and Mao in the Photographs of Walter Bosshard", taking place at the Völkerkundemuseum VPST Heidelberg from April 28, 2019 to June 10, 2019. For more information about the full program, visit here.

Please note that the lecture will be in German.

About the speaker:

Peter Pfrunder is director and curator of the Fotostiftung Schweiz / Swiss Foundation for Photography, Winterthur. He curates exhibitions in Switzerland and abroad and contributes to international Festivals. He has also published a wide range of books and essays on photography. As an author and exhibition curator, he focuses on photography as part of the visual culture of Switzerland in a broad sense, and has developed different approaches for working with archives.


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