Luca Zanetti


Luca Zanetti

Photo research 'The Truth needs Allies'


Jury report

Stirring Pictures
How can the im­po­tence and agony of sur­vivors be ex­pressed with­out be­com­ing voyeuris­tic? For sev­eral months, the pho­tog­ra­pher Luca Zanetti, based in Bogotá and Zürich, ac­com­pa­nied a Colom­bian team of foren­sic an­thro­pol­o­gists. His pro­ject, The Truth Needs Al­lies, con­fronts us with pho­tographs that can­not be ig­nored. In one pic­ture we see a woman in a rain­coat, the hood pulled up over her head, be­side her a bag with a flower pat­tern lying in a jum­ble of roots. She's look­ing to­wards the cam­era – we do not see what she sees. Out of con­text, the pho­to­graph is un­spec­tac­u­lar, were it not for the ten­sion in the woman's face. The cap­tion ex­plains: the woman, the widow of a mur­der vic­tim, is look­ing in the di­rec­tion of a dig­ging. Es­ti­mates of how many peo­ple dis­ap­peared in the Colom­bian civil war over the past four decades vary be­tween 20,000 and 50,000. They are vic­tims of em­bit­tered con­flict be­tween Marx­ist guer­ril­las, gov­ern­ment troops and right-wing para­mil­i­taries. In the past two years over 350 bod­ies have been ex­humed, some of them in the pres­ence of sur­viv­ing fam­ily mem­bers. An­other pic­ture shows the en­tire lo­ca­tion. We now see what the woman sees: two men wear­ing pro­tec­tive gear, with face masks and spades, parts of the skele­ton they have ex­humed laid out on a piece of plas­tic next to them. An­other pic­ture shows an old woman with thin­ning hair, her hand rest­ing on a bulky pack­age wrapped in plas­tic. It con­tains re­mains of a fam­ily mem­ber. In his black-and-white pho­tographs, Luca Zanetti, who grad­u­ated in pho­tog­ra­phy from the Zürich Uni­ver­sity of the Fine Arts, has suc­cess­fully es­tab­lished a del­i­cate bal­ance be­tween emo­tional in­volve­ment and de­tach­ment. He un­ob­tru­sively con­fronts us with the suf­fer­ing of the sur­vivors. His at­ti­tude tes­ti­fies to the re­spect with which he treats the peo­ple he por­trays and to the care with which he ap­proaches the medium of pho­tog­ra­phy. It is to his credit that he has brought a ne­glected issue to the at­ten­tion of the pub­lic. The in­ten­sity of the pho­tographs and their hu­man­ist ap­peal is pro­foundly felt even if one does not know the po­lit­i­cal back­ground of this re­portage.
Peter Stohler


Luca Zanetti
Born in