A colorful, translucent plexiglass installation greets visitors of Festival Images Vevey.
A larger than life photograph depicting a burning house is mounted on the Vevey's fire station. And an overhead photograph of an enclosed room has been plastered on the outdoor walls of the town’s former prison.
These are just three of 49 exhibits on display through September 27, 2020. "But why in Vevey," you ask? Even before the turn of the millennium, the residents of Vevey have endorsed the claim of "Ville d'images" - "City of images". There is the Swiss Camera Museum as well as a photography school. And of course, one of the world's pioneer filmmakers has lived there: Charlie Chaplin.
The bi-annual Festival Images is Vevey's way of showing off the best of visual arts to the rest of us. Free of charge, nonetheless.
During three weeks, the town's parks, underpasses and historic indoor spaces are home to visually stunning works of art, this year involving 59 artists from 17 countries.
From Denmark to South Africa, and from Japan right back to Switzerland: the artists involved in this year’s photography and video exhibit represent all corners of the world. They contributed beautiful, clever, hilarious and sometimes surreal works that made us think.
Take Annie Hsiao-Ching Wang from Taiwan.
We stumbled upon her installation of creative photographs just outside the parking garage. Entitled “The Mother as a Creator”, we were looking at a sort of photographic Matryoshka doll.
Since her pregnancy in 2000 and on an ongoing basis, Wang would take a new photograph of herself and her growing son. Each time, she would display the previous year’s photograph on the wall behind her.
The mural on Vevey's former prison is an eye-catcher, too.
Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Bircher are displaying one of a trilogy of photographs playing on Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis". (The German author wrote about his protagonist's seclusion and mutation into an insect.) For the project, the artists transformed their apartment to resemble the very space from the story, and "Gregor's Room III" is the result.
"Walk on Clouds" by Abraham Poincheval
In the venues of the Oriental Vevey theater, French performance artist, Abraham Poincheval, stunned us with a surreal video installation. Entitled “Walk on Clouds”, the artist appears suspended from a hot-air balloon throughout the video clip.
As he explores the airspace dozens of meters above ground, Poincheval is being filmed by a drone. In one scene, he acts as a bird-watcher with binoculars and all. Then in another, he plays the harmonica... You have to see it to believe it!
"What To Do With A Million Years" by British artist, Juno Calypso
Follow the dots on the ground leading to the back of the outdoor theater by the lake. The nuclear fallout shelter underneath has been turned into a gallery - showing a series of strange photographs taken in a real-life, underground shelter house in Las Vegas!
In short: this September, Vevey is quite the "hot spot" for international visual arts - no pun intended!
As you can imagine, in the months leading up to the opening weekend, the organizers faced some major challenges. While arts exhibits and festivals across Switzerland got canceled left and right, I kept rooting for Images Vevey. Because it had been years since my last visit and we really did not want to miss this edition.
In the end, the positive vibes of those interested in photography and visual arts prevailed! Thanks to this festival's use of largely outdoor spaces all over Vevey, it was possible for the organizers to stick to the plan and comply with COVID-19 related policies.
Needless to say, we felt very appreciative while visiting Festival Images on opening weekend.
Aren't we all scarred by the lock down during this turbulent year? Being able to enjoy a town as beautiful as Vevey on foot, meanwhile conversing with artists and other visitors... It was a treat for the soul. Of course, we kept social distancing alive and sanitized our hands at every installation.
The theme for the 2020 edition of Festival Images is called "Unexpected. Le hasard des choses." It translates to as much as “Unexpected. The coincidence of things.” Ironically, the theme was picked before the global Coronavirus pandemic which would bring us nothing but unexpected surprises...
Are you ready to be surprised?
Festival Images Vevey is essentially a self-guided walking tour. There is no admission, and all explanations are in English. What else can you ask for?