Arnold Odermatt


Arnold Odermatt
Wolfenschiessen, 1969
Gelatin-silver print, 30 x 40 cm
Collection Fotomuseum Winterthur

© Urs Odermatt, Windisch

b. 1925 (Oberdorf, CH), lives and works in Stans, CH
As a police photographer, Arnold Odermatt carried out his job of photographing accidents with great precision and a keen eye for a picture. His crash images fall into two main categories, which might be described as landscape photographs and photographed sculptures. In Odermatt’s photos, the sleepy Swiss landscape with its meadows, trees and lakes unwittingly becomes a backdrop for the bizarre. Amid the gentle, leafy scenery there is a point where two vehicles have collided, or there are strangely gouged tracks ending with a car that has rammed into a tree or wall, or has broken through a barrier and become half-immersed in a lake. In the midst of order there is an accident. The second type of photo takes a narrower view, focusing on the vehicle itself, in close-ups of mangled wrecks, warped wings, gaping bonnets and smashed windscreens. The sober objectivity and precision of these photographs turns them into a kind of involuntary sculpture. These are commissioned photographs from the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and are to be taken in context. Yet their value as truly compelling images goes far beyond that.