Exhibition Virtual Tour "Fred Boissonnas and the Mediterranean. A photographic odyssey"

Rath Museum, Geneva, by Estelle Sohier (University of Geneva).
(Louvre Auditorium, broadcast on December 21, 2020)

Fred Boissonnas' (1858-1946) photographic work was recognized for his pictorialist prints, his exceptional photographic art books such as In Greece Through the Mountains and Through the Valleys (En Grèce par monts et par vaux; 1910), his campaigns on the Acropolis of Athens or his collaboration with Victor Bérard on Homer's Odyssey footsteps.

The exhibition "A Photographic Odyssey", currently on display at the Rath Museum in Geneva, links these different facets to show how much the Mediterranean has been the driving force behind this photographer's quest to have photography recognized as an art in its own right. Travelling through the Mediterranean landscapes and collaborating with writers, archaeologists and politicians, Fred Boissonnas interprets the geography and history of the world through photography. Heirs to romanticism, his images constitute an essential contribution to the new vision of the world brought by photography in the 20th century.

After several years of research in the rich archives of the Boissonnas workshop, the exhibition brings together prints made using different processes from art books, autochrome books, poster projections and handwritten documents in order to understand the history of photography in the diversity of its forms and techniques.

Estelle Sohier is a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Geography and Environment at the University of Geneva. At the crossroads of cultural geography and history, her work focuses on the history of photography and its uses and on the notion of geographical imaginary. His doctoral thesis in history, carried out at the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne and at the University l'Orientale of Naples, dealt with the political use of photography by the Ethiopian royalty between the 1880s and the 1930s.
For several years she has been studying the work of the Geneva photographer and publisher Fred Boissonnas, in particular his work on Swiss landscapes, Greece, Egypt and the Mediterranean.
She has notably published Le roi des rois et la photographie : politique de l'image et pouvoir royal en Ethiopie sous le règne de Ménélik II (Publications de la Sorbonne 2012) and Une odyssée photographique. Fred Boissonnas et la Méditerranée (Éditions de La Martinière 2020). She is curator of the exhibition of the same name which opened at the Rath Museum in Geneva on September 25, 2020.