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Silvio Maraini

Press release


Silvio Maraini — Stars

Silvio Maraini assumes that we don’t see everything with our eyes; secrets remain hidden. He tries to reveal these with the camera. In the project Geflutete Kathedralen [Flooded Cathedrals] 2009-2015, he photographed the spaces of cisterns precisely in the short moment when they were emptied to be inspected. He discovers high spaces supported by pillars, reminiscent of cathedrals. In the project Sanatorium Agra 2008-2009, he documents the ruins of a former lung sanatorium above Lugano that were torn down in 2010. The ruins don’t show its charged history: Once it was one of the most renowned sanatoriums in Europe, established and directed by a lung specialist with Nazi affinities, and it was also a place favoured by German left-wing intellectuals and artists. 

In his most recent portfolio Stars, to this day his most personal work, Silvio Maraini portrays famous race and show horses that make a lot of money for their owner, but also common riding and leisure-time horses. Each of the animals has its own history. They are kept in different ways, trained and used differently. Whether Olympic champions, world champions, or leisure-time partners: the Palmarès, i.e., the ranking, often says more about the people than the horse. In the medieval minnesongs, the horses are praised no less than the knights, and they are as richly dressed as their masters. Horses have a personality, sometimes they are a person’s only companion, the last aid when humans are in distress – “a kingdom for a horse”. (1) Man has bred horses for his requirements, but he cannot strip them of their individuality. This is precisely what Silvio Maraini captures in his photographs: “The photographs are made in studio-like conditions that however allow for an element of chance.” (2) Freed from any distraction like bridle or halter, the camera concentrates on the horse and its charisma. “They are equal creatures”, (3) the photographs want to tell us. We must learn to see and respect the dignity and personality of an animal. 

The exhibition will be accompanied by the book Stars with 99 horse portraits, a foreword by Ingrid Klimke, and a text by Silvio Maraini.

(1) William Shakespeare, Richard III.
(2) Silvio Maraini, in: Silvio Maraini, „Stars“.
(3) ibid.

Silvio Maraini was born in 1970. He studied geophysics at ETH Zürich, and in addition to his work as a photographer, he works in the environmental field. His photographs are in numerous private and public collections, including that of F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG,
Basel, the EAWAG (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology), and IWB (Industrielle Werke Basel). Together with his wife and six horses, he lives in Eastern Switzerland.