ABOUT "CHALETS OF SWITZERLAND"
"Chalets of Switzerland" - A photo series, which challenges by its precise abstractness and reminds of the art book "Heads" by Alex Kayser. There, manifold heads, all without hair and make-up reduced to their physiognomy, are shown frontally on a black background. A reversal is made by Patrick Lambertz architectural photography with vernacular archi-tecture. The buildings surrounded by snow in misty light seem surreal and contextless, enhanced by the frontal presentation. The chalets are reduced to their materiality and proportions. Due to the basic symmetry and abstraction, the shots are reminiscent of faces - the reason why this type of house is so popular?
Patrick J. Schnieper, Architect
Portrait Alex Kayser, Courtesy of ALEX KAYSER FOUNDATION
Despite its relatively small size, Switzerland is associated with a multitude of world-famous clichés that outweigh those of many larger countries: chocolate, watches, banks, cheese, Heidi, and, of course, the mountains, to name but a few. One such idealized Swiss image is that of the romantic wooden mountain chalet, replete with open log fires and rustic interiors, ensconced in towering mountains and pristine snow.
German photographer Patrick Lambertz capitalizes on this cliché with his photo series, "Chalets." Fully cognizant that Switzerland is a mosaic of contradictions, far exceeding its stereotypes, he intentionally focused on the romanticized chalet. "The term 'Chalet,' in its earliest usage, signified nothing more than a barrack or shack. Typically, 'barrack' connotes an old hut or building. Bearing in mind this dualistic perception of chalets, I devoted several winters to identifying photogenic subjects. During my travels through a Switzerland often over-simplified by such clichés, I discovered a parallel universe – the 'Chalets' far removed from the glittering world of the idealized image. This became the genesis of my series, a typology of overlooked Swiss houses."
Lambertz's work finds its roots in the history of photography, particularly in the Düsseldorf School of Photography and the 'New Objectivity' movement. The photographic series of half-timbered houses by Bernd and Hilla Becher, conceived in the late 1950s, served as a significant influence, as did the serial typologies of photographer Candida Höfer. Even the strictly formal photographic art of Karl Blossfeldt is echoed in Lambertz's perspective. Throughout the process of photographing diverse chalets, he deliberately chose to depict them against the backdrop of an abstract, minimalist winter landscape. Presented in this manner, the chalets emerge as leading actors on the stage of a 'Switzerland apart,' as the artist terms it. "The buildings command attention on the stage of the minimalist winter landscape, making them impossible to ignore. Stripped of any surrounding distractions, the photographs unveil the unique charm and individual character of each of these structures.”
Thomas Borowski | Journalist, Zürich