Photographs by Arnold Odermatt. Edited by Urs Odermatt.
Steidl, Gottingen, 2007. 244 pp., Illustrated throughout, 9½x12½".
Arnold Odermatt joined the police force in his native Swiss canton of
Nidwalden in 1948, when he was just in his twenties. When he retired more
than 40 years later as Vice Commander of the department and Lieutenant
Director of Traffic Police, he found sudden, unexpected fame as an artist. His
photographs of the vehicle accidents that had been part of his professional
life, collected in the book Karambolage, led to international recognition:
his work was shown at the 2001 Armory Fair and Venice Biennale, followed
by solo exhibitions at the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002 and at the
Fotomuseum Winterthur in 2004.
In addition to his car crash photographs, Odermatt has also used his camera
to recreate scenes from his days in law enforcement, spurred on by the fears
of the shrinking Nidwalden police force, in hopes of enticing the village youth
to join its increasingly unfashionable ranks. On Duty collects these images,
which are populated by Odermatt’s colleagues reenacting their daily adventures,
in a compelling sequence of colorful tableaux. It is a strange and impressive
document offering unexpected insight into a hidden world.
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