Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Exhibition in Lucerne – Daniel Schwartz: The Chronicler of a Wounded World

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Daniel Schwartz has been traveling to explosive places around the world for almost five decades. From Cambodia to Wall Street. His exhibition “Tracings” at the Kunstmuseum Lucerne shows people in exceptional situations – on ordinary days.

Daniel Schwartz’s photographs point to the adversities of the world. Persistent, but never striking. There are hard-working people there. For example, Vietnamese workers who manually remove rust from a Russian cargo ship. Probably far too many hours a day for far too little money.


Daniel Schwartz: “The Anchor Chain”, Bach Dang Shipyard, Haiphong, Vietnam, September 30, 1993.

© 2023 Daniel Schwartz / VII, ProLitteris, Zurich

Other images show footage from crisis areas. The shin of a Rohingya refugee child. Shattered by the butt of a Burmese soldier’s rifle.

Daniel Schwartz is not a photographer who captures current events. “I don’t react to events, but rather follow developments and interrelationships of interests over longer periods of time,” says Schwartz.

Black and white photo of a child's shin with several open wounds, with another person standing in the background


Daniel Schwartz: “A child’s shin was shattered by the rifle butt of a member of the Burmese army,” January 16, 1992. The photo comes from the “Maricha Palong” refugee camp.

© 2023 Daniel Schwartz / VII, ProLitteris, Zurich

This also applies to his recordings from 2001 from Herat/Afghanistan. You can see people fleeing hunger and the Taliban regime. Photographer Daniel Schwartz says: “The pictures are more than 20 years old and are relevant again today.” The photographs almost take on something prophetic. The calamity depicted refers to future calamity.

It could be footage from today’s Afghanistan. Because no one prevented the disaster. The brutality of the world is man-made. And the brutality is linked globally.

Exhibition notice

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The exhibition “Tracings” can be seen at the Kunstmuseum Lucerne until February 4, 2024.

The exhibition in the Lucerne Art Museum also shows images from the world’s centers of abundance. A shot of Wall Street. A picture in front of Tiffany & Co. Well-oiled machines of consumer society. «Tiffany’s is the metaphor of abundance. But if you look closely at the picture, you can see the Senegalese street vendors on the sidewalk in front of Tiffany’s,” says Schwartz.

Scarcity and abundance

The exhibition “Tracings” shows how economic conditions cast their shadows and shape the world. In one photo we see a Cambodian ruby ​​hunter. She was injured by landmines and has malaria. Her husband looks after her and holds a child in his arms. An intimate image full of care and vulnerability.

Daniel Schwartz maps the precariousness and within it people’s ability to survive. They are people in permanent exceptional situations. And yet on a completely ordinary day. “On An Ordinary Day,” says the caption of another photo.

Black and white photo of a street scene.  In the middle of the picture there is a person with a filled plastic bag on his head


Daniel Schwartz “An Ordinary Day”, Kabul, Afghanistan, September 12, 2012.

© 2023 Daniel Schwartz / VII, ProLitteris, Zurich

Daniel Schwartz also takes photos where the fate of the world is decided. But there is still practically nothing to depict.

For example, in an administrative room in the boardroom of the Federal Reserve Bank. A highly polished meeting table with an inlay. A beam of light falls directly on it and reflects out into the world.

Wooden meeting table with emblem of the bank.  Light falls through a window onto the table and creates a reflection


Daniel Schwartz: “Boardroom table,” The Federal Reserve Bank, New York City, USA, August 10, 1998.

© 2023 Daniel Schwartz / VII, ProLitteris, Zurich

The last picture in the exhibition is again from Afghanistan, Herat, from 2001. You see hunger refugees. On the right edge of the picture, half-disappeared, is the face of a man looking directly into the camera. Looking at us.

In the background the ruins of the 15th century minarets. When Herat was considered the Florence of Asia under the Timurid dynasty and was in its heyday.

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