Mar 17, 2020
Sandro is a Swiss architect and photographer who enjoys wandering in nature and daydreaming in order to draw inspiration and start new projects. In his series 'Berge bleichen', Sandro roams the 'Val Lumnezia' in the Swiss Graubünden region looking for the overlooked and quotidian, revealing in this way incredible details that at the end of the day, make the character of a place. The title of this series, 'Mountains bleach', refers to the pale light that he found in the valley, as well as the fact that direct continuous sunlight fades away the colour of everything, natural and man-made objects, making us reflect on the transient nature of things.
am - First of all thank you very much for your contribution to our project. Can you please introduce yourself for us?
SS - I was born in Zurich Wiedikon, Switzerland, but then moved a lot and went on a comprehensive trip around the world with my parents as a small child. So
home is not so easy for me to grasp and understand, as it may be for others. I like moving around. I studied architecture at ETH Zurich and worked as an architect in offices during and after my studies. I have recently become an independent architect and photographer and work and live in Wädenswil, Switzerland.
am - How did you start in photography?
SS - I was interested in my grandfather's and my father's cameras early on. The greatest excitement was always when the developed film rolls and prints were ready to be picked up at the laboratory and we could finally see the photos. From that moment on I also wanted a camera to take pictures. So, first I had a 35mm film camera. Then came the digital age, and finally I returned to film during my studies, and I've stayed with it ever since.
During my studies, I mostly worked with my good friend Mikael Blomfelt. We were deeply influenced by how projects can be communicated with images. So every architectural project started with an image, a kind of constructed photograph. In the end, our free diploma „27 rauchende Kamine“ was largely a collection of digitally generated images, i.e. renderings that told a story on the Urnerboden.
Photography therefore always played an important role in my life to process my visual impressions and feelings.
am - What inspires your work?
SS - I am inspired by various things such as stories in books and films, wandering through the landscape and nature and especially daydreams: to close my eyes or to lose focus, to let the focus soften, so that I can think about the possibilities of a project. In such moments, my personal feelings come out particularly strong and intense, from which I draw new inspiration for looking at things.
am - What is 'Berge bleichen' about?
SS - The series has been created over the past 5 years and it is about the mountain valley "Val Lumnezia" in the Swiss Graubünden.
Mountains bleach in a variety of ways. The mountains themselves, but also their surroundings. The valley is marked by a pale light. With an entrance and no exit, with a road and no tunnel to the next area. No pass road winds up. This creates calm, a pale island in a saturated country. Things are left standing, time can work, clocks run behind. Nobody cares. The light of the sun is strong and proudly shows its traces. In the valley it peels color, bleaches nature and man-made things in it.
Mountains are serious and sometimes scary. They talk about life and death, about permanence and transience. They don't just reveal history and secrets.
The series „Berge bleichen" is to show the previously described, a different picture of the mountains. The opposite of the romantic picture that everyone knows. Apart from tourism and pure infrastructure, places in the valley have been sought that are simply allowed to be. Without claims to meaning and purpose for the masses. The pure undemanding itself - at first glance. Because they need great attention to the apparently invisible. Things that seem trivial to us at first and only reveal something deeper when we look closely and intensively. Only that there are no physical figures to tell. In such places, the absence of people can create the feeling of being observed. Be it a dark window, the veiled curtain behind the glass, or thick tree trunks that surround you - the unknown leads to new ideas, stories and new beliefs and ends in new pictures. From the initially shy shimmer, a unique and crystal clear shine opens up...
I wanted to create this bigger image of the peculiarities of this valley described above.
am - Who are your favourite photographers / artists?
SS - I particularly admire the work of Bryan Schutmaat, Alec Soth, Jakob De Boer, Todd Hido and Hans Danuser.
am - What is your favourite movie?
SS - Oh there are many films I like, but I was deeply touched by the film „The Lighthouse“ recently. A film completely in black and white.
am - What is your favourite photo book?
SS - Again, there are too many just to name one: Alec Soth’s "Broken Manual" (which I probably will never own), Bryan Schutmaats "Grays the Mountains Sends", Jakob de Boer’s "Where Ravens Cry" and Hans Danuser’s "In Vivo".
am - Thank you very much for your time and your contribution to analog magazine.
SS - Thank your for having me, it was a pleasure to answer your questions.
All images © Sandro Straube