At the change of the year we give you something not for the head, but for the senses: in autumn we had a vernissage with portraits of Europeans created by the Swiss photographer Martin Rütschi.
His photographic journey began in 2011, as the Swiss photographer Martin Rütschi set out to capture the face of Europe. His travels took him through 46 countries from Malta to the polar ice caps, from Ural to Portugal. The sheer breadth and diversity of Europe unfold in a series of over 1,200 portraits.
Rütschi intuitively selects everyday citizens from all walks of life, sets up an impromptu studio comprised of a background, a tripod and a view camera, and within just a few minutes, the image is captured. Staged yet un-staged. An approach as technically challenging as it is simple.
Europe is presented in a way unexpected to even Rütschi himself. He uncovers a Europe with surviving strong cultural roots, even if they aren’t as rich as in the times of kings and castles. It’s a Europe that extends beyond the political and economic issues dominating the most dominant of European countries. Some have their golden days behind them. Others hope their golden days are yet to come. All are fighting to make the future better than the present.
Surprising are the struggles spanning all ages and social classes. They are felt in the seriousness and authenticity to each of the portraits. There is neither the cultural stereotype nor is there the lightheartedness one might expect from this type of project. But, there is a certain quality in each of the people chosen. A strength. Sometimes even an optimism. Rütschi captures not only the face, but also a glimpse into the soul of Europe.