As a long-term project, Swiss artists and photographers Rico Scagliola and Michael Meier captured the image of today’s youth in Switzerland – a generation obsessed with self-depiction. In close collaboration with the artists, we distilled their large collection of photographs and videos into the book ‘Neue Menschen’.
THE OLYMPUS OF SELF-FULFILLMENT
Together with the art historian Martin Jäggi, the 4 years and almost 80'000 images of the project were gradually condensed, selected, edited and bundled into a 350 page book, with 337 photographs depicting 78 adolescents. Weighing over 2 kg, printed on high-gloss paper and densely layouted with little white space, the book is a colossus of images. It represents the Olympus of self-fulfillment that the portrayed adolescents so dearly strive to enter. The self, so fleeting in today’s age of social media, hopes to be immortalized by the printed page.
The book portrays a generation who grew up ‘digitally native’, flooded by images and lured into a culture of constant self-portraiture. In the photographs, the young women and men present themselves with pride and promiscuity, showing neither shame nor self-consciousness. And yet, obscured by the highly staged images, their true selves move beyond reach. On the cover, the portrait of a young man is glossed over with a radiant spectral foil. Similarly, the kids’ pursuit of idealized self-depiction is but a glittery shield of self-protection.
Originally, Scagliola and Meier presented their photographs in a loud, wild slideshow-installation with multiple projectors. To bring the printed presentation closer to this early spatial experience, the small, fat book was given a large, thin brother. Limited to an edition of 50, signed and numbered, the original print-sheets were hand-bound into a supersize version of the book. With the pages reshuffled and rebound, the images appear in a new order, with some cut apart or turned upside down. Showing the images in a panoramic rather than a diptych layout, the supersize edition thus creates a multi-view display similar to the original slideshow-installation.
THEY HAVE LANDED
For the launch of the book a release party was thrown at the club ‘Exil’ in Zurich. True to its title, the book was celebrated much like the arrival of an extraterrestrial species. A video prologue to the book, created by Scagliola and Meier, reinforces their story of an adolescent tribe preoccupied with a parallel world – the world of the desired self.
‘Neue Menschen’ was awarded as one of the Most Beautiful Swiss Books in 2011. Furthermore, in 2013, the photographic project by Rico Scagliola and Michael Meier was nominated for a Swiss Design Award.
Concept: Rico & Michael and Afrika
Editing: Martin Jäggi, Rico & Michael and Afrika
Typeface: Koban Regular & Title by Afrika
Production: Miram Fischer
Publisher: Edition Patrick Frey
Printing: Druckerei Grammlich
3D Rendering: Luc Kaelin
Opening Video: Rico & Michael