Past exhibition

Industrial Image – The Eastern Swiss Economic Region from 1870 to Today

09.04.–05.06.1994

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Switzerland experienced a proud industrial period. In the archives of companies from eastern Switzerland hundreds of thousands of photographic documents are stored: of spinning mills, weaving mills, textiles, of metalworking and electrical industries, of machines, the production of clothing and food, building of streets, railroads, power plants, and factories.

These photographs are stored in the cellars of factories on glass plates, blueprints, or as careful prints, lie forgotten in shoeboxes, exposed to dust and dampness, or have been carefully archived and chronologically ordered in photo albums. Until now little attention has been paid to them. Yet they are a fantastic pool of documents from the history of our country, which convey visual information about all aspects of industry, about the modernization of Switzerland, about the innovations and production forces of the once young companies, about life in the factories, which was off-limits to outsiders, about the mentality in the various industries, the social coexistence or clashing between those on top and those underneath, about women’s and men’s work, leisure, and industrial discipline. They also present the monumental, fantastic sides of the industrial buildings and machines in the usually small-format Switzerland.

Giorgio Wolfensberger, himself a trained photographer of industry, has sifted through many company archives for the Fotomuseum Winterthur. The selected photographs – many of which are shown for the first time – form a visual history of the economic space of eastern Switzerland and the industrial photography from 1870 to today.

The exhibition was curated by Urs Stahel and Giorgio Wolfensberger. A cooperation with the Freuler-Palast, Näfels.

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