“Cow portraits – icon or just cattle?”

Tue, 27. Aug. 2019
It all began with her, the Simmental Fränzi (Marco Felix)

What initially started off as a commission to photograph the Simmental cow, Fränzi, developed into a tribute to a Swiss icon.

It took Marco Felix four years to stage and photograph 12 different breeds of cattle found in Switzerland. The resulting portraits are currently on show at the Heimatwerk in Saanen until 14 September.

As a photographer, Marco Felix, has worked both locally and internationally. He’s been known for climbing the highest mountains just to get the perfect shot. In the process, he has photographed some of the most beautiful places in the world. His current exhibition in the Glasbodenraum or glass floored room of Saanen’s Heimatwerk pays homage to a very different kind of subject: the cow.

Undoubtedly a Swiss icon, depicted on everything from postcards, to mugs, napkins, and paintings, Felix’s exhibition dispels any doubt lingering over the cow’s star power by placing her front and centre in his portrait images. Gone are the bucolic surroundings that typically surround images of Switzerland’s national mascot. Felix’s photographs focus purely on his subjects, bringing their majesty and beauty to the fore. He photographed them in a studio-like setting, much like the way portrait photographs of people are typically taken.

Felix’s personal ties to the Saanenland are deep-rooted, and so it makes sense for his work to be presented here, where cows play such a significant role in local life. He spent most of his youth in Saanen. After graduating from school, he studied tourism. This gave him the opportunity to spend the summer months abroad, where he discovered the world as a tour guide and captured unique people and moments in his photographs. During the winter months he worked as a snowboard instructor in the Saanenland. It soon became clear to him that his career could not lie in an office. Upon his definitive return to Switzerland, he studied photography in Zurich and returned to the Saanenland often for inspiration.

Although the artist initially saw himself more as an outdoor photographer, where lighting is dictated by nature, his interest in the technical aspects, artistic possibilities, and advantages of a photo studio increased during his studies. His client list is long and ranges from companies in the Saanenland, to Edelweiss Airlines.

Felix has a studio close to Bern in the Unterland, and although he continues to pursue his passion for outdoor photography, since the birth of his son he is only active across Switzerland – at least temporarily.

“It’s fulfilling and I feel honoured and grateful to have been given the opportunity to exhibit my work in Saanen. Honestly, in the beginning of this project I was hoping I could display one or two pictures in one of the galleries in Gstaad. But I’m so glad this didn’t happen and I got the chance to exhibit my whole project in the most beautiful and special showroom I could ask for. The Heimatwerk’s Glasbodenraum and the picturesque village of Saanen, my hometown, are the perfect match for my work,” says Felix.

Anne Christine Kempton


The artist will be present at the exhibition on 31 August at the Heimatwerk in Saanen.

His work can be viewed and purchased via his website: www.maf-photography.ch

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