Luc Chessex

Interview: Lorette Coen, Martin Roth
Video: Studio Roth&Maerchy, Zürich

Luc Chessex, 1936

Photographer, Lausanne

At 25, after study­ing at the School of Pho­tog­ra­phy in Vevey, Luc Ches­sex trav­eled to Cuba. He planned to stay for a year to sup­port the rev­o­lu­tion with his pho­tographs, but stayed 14 years, build­ing an im­por­tant col­lec­tion of pho­tos on Cuban life dur­ing the time. From 1961 to 1968 he worked for the Min­istry of Cul­ture, par­tic­u­larly as a pho­tog­ra­pher for Fidel Cas­tro and Che Gue­vara. As a high­light of his ca­reer, he served as artis­tic di­rec­tor of the mag­a­zine "Cuba in­ter­na­cional". Later, as cor­re­spon­dent for the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina, Ches­sex trav­eled through­out the South Amer­i­can con­ti­nent for over four years and as­sem­bled a tremen­dous col­lec­tion of im­ages from which he cre­ated the ex­hi­bi­tion "When there is no more El­do­rado" (1977), the first part of a tril­ogy also com­posed of a film and a book. Back in Lau­sanne in 1975, he worked as free­lance pho­tog­ra­pher and de­cided to turn his cam­era to Switzer­land. This pro­ject re­sulted in the ex­hi­bi­tion and book "Swiss Life" (1987). Ches­sex ac­tively worked for hu­man­i­tar­ian causes, on the­atre of wars, and on de­vel­op­ment pro­jects for the In­ter­na­tional Com­mit­tee of the Red Cross or the Swiss Agency for De­vel­op­ment and Co­op­er­a­tion. Ten years of travel in Africa, Asia, Aus­tralia, Latin Amer­ica and the US lead to the mon­u­men­tal "Around the World" ex­hi­bi­tion and book (1999). From 1981 to 1989 Ches­sex taught in var­i­ous pho­tog­ra­phy schools. He began a thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion of mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism in the Lau­sanne area that re­sulted in the ex­hi­bi­tion and book "Of all the col­ors" (2012).