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MBAL : Montagne Magique Mystique


An ode to nature by Nathalie Herschdorfer

In response to a year conducive to rediscovering the landscapes that surround us, the MBAL is celebrating the mountains, a popular destination for the Swiss. The natural landscape, a source of inspiration for artists for many centuries, is at the heart of our programming. The MONTAGNE MAGIQUE MYSTIQUE exhibition draws on historical photographs from 18 public and private collections in Switzerland and reveals prints for the most part never exhibited to the public. Inspired by painters who depicted majestic Alpine panoramas, early photographers carried their heavy gear on their excursions in the Alps. Mountain photography developed in the 19th century alongside mountaineering, meeting the imaging needs of nascent tourism. Although photographers battled harsh conditions, working with cumbersome equipment that required them to carry chemicals, sheets of glass and tents serving as dark rooms along cliffs, they managed to produce extraordinary images. , while offering a variety of points of view. The exhibition bears witness to the enthusiasm of the first generations of photographers for high peaks: until then considered wild and dangerous spaces, they were suddenly perceived as places of glorious nature and great beauty. The exhibition pays homage not only to artists who often risked their lives to photograph the majesty of the mountains, but also to institutional and private collectors who have preserved their images to this day.

Today, contemporary practice reveals itself in a deconstruction and a questioning of the notion of landscape. Some artists work directly in nature, others react to ecological concerns or use plants to experiment with new artistic forms. The MBAL invited four contemporary artists to intervene in connection to this theme: MAUREN BRODBECK (Switzerland, 1974) floats her works in space. The natural landscape allows her to question the intangible. The installation by RUDY DECELIÈRE (Switzerland / France, 1979), made up of large dry grasses that quiver thanks to magnets and a network of copper wires, is experienced by the sounds and vibrations that it generates with the paintings of the collection of the MBAL. ESTER VONPLON (Switzerland, 1980) creates photograms with photographic paper dating from 1907. Her images then take an unexpected form due to the aging process. Finally, ANASTASIA SAMOYLOVA (Russia / USA, 1984) produced a unique monumental installation for the facade of the MBAL. Her mural summons the Grand Canyon against a background of climate change.

It can be understood, contemplating nature is not only experienced through images. The MBAL invites the public to continue visiting the museum by going to the heart of the Jura landscape. In September 2021, the 6th edition of the contemporary photography festival Alt. +1000 will be held in the valley of La Brévine. To complete these exhibitions devoted to landscape, the MBAL is publishing a previously unpublished text by the Italian philosopher Emanuele Coccia, author of the remarkable essays La vie des plantes et Métamorphoses. Have a good exploration!

Nathalie Herschdorfer



Montagne Magique Mystique

May 7 – September 26, 2021

Musée des Beaux-Arts Le Locle

Marie-Anne-Calame 6

CH-2400 Le Locle

Due to the sanitary situation, the opening of the exhibition is postponed to a later date. 3 free tours are offered on

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