Past exhibition

Against Denial and Dissembling – Carl Durheim's Police Photography of Homeless 1852/53

31.01.–22.03.1998

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Carl Durheim’s portrait photography of homeless and vagabonds – all taken in 1852/53 under commission from the Swiss Attorney General of the time, then lithographed and passed on to the police in book form – are the first police records department photographs in Switzerland, if not in the world.

From November 1852 to the end of 1853 Carl Durheim (1810–1890), lithographer and pioneer photographer from Bern, took photographic portraits of people, living in Switzerland, but of no fixed address and thus “homeless”. These standardised police record photographs were intended to assist in the forced naturalisation, forced assimilation or forced eviction of those groups of the population affected, for example itinerants – measures introduced by the young Swiss federal state in 1850. This unique body of salt prints, of considerable, ethnologic, political and photographic interest, are kept in the Swiss Federal Archives.

The exhibition was curated by Martin Gasser. A cooperation with the Museum für Kommunikation, Bern. 

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