Annemarie Schwarzenbach: Departure Without Destination
Annemarie Schwarzenbach: Departure Without Destination, presented in collaboration with Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland, is the first major retrospective dedicated to the photography of this Swiss writer, photographer, and journalist Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908–1942).
Despite her early death, she left behind an impressive body of work that is of great emotional intensity and political relevance. Consumed by wanderlust, a desire for social progress, and a sense of adventure, between 1933 and her death in 1942, she travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, Africa, and the United States, documenting in both text and image, the social and political struggles, tensions, and conflicts of the period leading up to World War II. Schwarzenbach’s photographs also convey personal themes, such as life in exile, the search for identity, homosexuality, or the desire to transgress conventional gender roles. Above all, though, they express Schwarzenbach’s unbridled passion for travel– and her search for encounters with the unknown, the “departure without destination” as an existential experience.
When her literary work was rediscovered in the 1980s, she became celebrated as a writer, female pioneer, and gay icon. It was not until recently, however, that her contributions in photography have been recognized. The focal point of this exhibition is Schwarzenbach’s estate of approximately 4,000 photographs, preserved within the Swiss Literary Archives (Schweizerisches Literaturarchiv), located in Bern. Relatively unknown to date and rarely exhibited, these photographs have recently been digitized by the Swiss Literary Archives and made available for research, exhibition, and publication. Here, for the first time, the parallels between both of her practices, as a writer and as a photographer, are presented in a compelling exhibition accompanied by archival materials and film.
Annemarie Schwarzenbach: Departure Without Destination is an exhibition produced by the Zentrum Paul Klee, Bern, Switzerland. The presentation at the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art will be adapted from the exhibition’s first iteration to include English translations, regionally specific photographs, and a series of programs specifically designed for Bechtler audiences.