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Lausanne: reGeneration3, What Photography Looks Like Today


Every five years, the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, offers an overview of contemporary young photographers. The institution asks the world’s major photography schools to submit the work of their five best students. In 2015, they contacted 350 schools and ended up with 50 projects from 18 different countries.

For reGeneration3, following previous editions in 2005 and 2010, the conclusion is clear: photography has expanded, as it were, outside the frame. In schools, mixing media is more popular than ever. The still image is starting to move and being included in installations, publishing, performances and video games, recycling past processes and theorists. Its focus is documentation, memory, dematerialization and experience. It has left the old norms of objectivity and truth far behind it. The distinct genres—portraiture, landscape, still life, street photography, reportage—have been forgotten, or at least reinvented for the pixelated present. Few of the photographs on display are sufficient unto themselves, like in the old days.

Divided into three sections—documentary, new expressions and memory—the exhibition is carefully designed, which was necessary to give shape to this three-dimensional, multimedia form of photography with its screens and objects. The visitor to this new world will encounter body bags, enter huts and walk across colored prints.

In 2010, Chinese photography took pride of place here at the Elysée. This year, the focus has shifted to Eastern Europe, especially Poland, as well as Scandinavia and the UK. Switzerland, with its renowned photo schools—who are prompt to respond to the museum’s invitation—is also very present. There’s an excellent Thai photographer submitted not by any school but by a photography festival in Phnom Penh led by Christian Caujolle. There are French, Americans, South Americans, South Africans and South Koreans, with lots of binational participants, a signal that the time of “national photography” is yet another thing of the past.

The technical mastery on display by these young photographers is impressive, as is their intelligence and the means of expression available to them. No single photographer stood out from the rest, but the overall quality is undeniable. Some of the projects stray too far from photography to justify their inclusion here, further evidence that photography is no longer what it once was. Or rather, it’s much more.


From May 29th to August 23rd, 2015
Musée de l’Elysée
18, avenue de l’Elysée
1014 Lausanne

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