Three Worlds – Barnabás Bosshart, Photos from Brazil, 1980-2005

2 June to 14 October 2007


Strong personal commitment, thematic focus and a direct, expressive visual language are characteristic features of the photographic oeuvre of Barnabás Bosshart, a native of Herisau born in 1947. After completing his studies in Photography at the Kunstgewerbeschule Zürich, Bosshart soon earned a reputation as a leading fashion photographer in the fashion Mecca of London. Yet in the early 1970s, he turned his back on the fashion business and embarked upon a search for other ways of life. After travelling extensively for some time, he settled in Brazil in 1980. Since then, he has focused his attention on realities of life in his adopted homeland in a number of different projects.

João do Gilo (Kauar), Maranhão 2005
© Barnabás Bosshart / Fotostiftung Schweiz

At the Mangueira school of Samba, Rio de Janeiro 1992
© Barnabás Bosshart / Fotostiftung Schweiz

Maísa Pereira, Alcântara 1984
© Barnabás Bosshart / Fotostiftung Schweiz

The Fotostiftung Schweiz now presents the three most important and extensive Brazilian works in which Bosshart has pursued differing photographic approaches in an exhibition and a book. Completed during the 1980s, his Alcântara do Maranhão is an impressive series of photographs which capture the magical atmosphere and the melancholy mood of the former colonial city in north-eastern Brazil, which has since succumbed to decline. In Rio Exposto (1991-93), Bosshart set about to explore the living conditions in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro. A disturbing tableau emerges - the picture of an uprooted and unleashed society in which normality and insanity, hope and despair, brutality and sensuality collide with one another. Barnabás Bosshart devoted the third major project, completed in 2005, to the descendents of the original inhabitants of Brazil by immersing himself in the virtually unexplored world of the Canela-Apanyekra Indians in the State of Maranhão. His photographs speak of the pride and unbroken vitality of a small, isolated community of shared destinies. They offer insights into a baffling diversity of rituals and ceremonies without exaggerating the exotic or transfiguring the primitive. And they also bear witness to the richness of a culture that has been preserved into our age by the last 800 representatives of a once great people.

Barnabás Bosshart: Drei Welten. Brasilienbilder 1980-2005. Hg. von Peter Pfrunder / Fotostiftung Schweiz, mit Beiträgen von Barnabás Bosshart, William H. Crocker, Markus Landert, Angela Magalhães/ Nadja Fonseca Peregrino und Peter Pfrunder. Benteli Verlag, Zürich und Bern 2007. 224 S.