Filmmaker Iwan Schumacher, known for his portraits of artists, bought a small camera in early 1972 and took it with him everywhere he went. The camera became his notebook. Schumacher subsequently gave himself up to the lure of the landscapes, people and mood-changing lighting that he came across. With his little Canon he could shoot away without intention, without prescribed subject or theme, much the way we take pictures with cell phones today.
Schumacher spent the first half of 1972 in England, where he’d been teaching photography at an art school for a year and a half. After his return to Switzerland he assisted on a documentary film and got to work on making his own first film. Over time his interest in continuing his photographic diary waned till in late 1972 he stopped taking pictures altogether and devoted himself entirely to film.
The friends and coworkers portrayed by Schumacher are all young, still looking to find their social and professional niche. Their moods of the portraits seesaw between elation and melancholy. And the subjects include not only friends, but also a ragpicker, a mailman, a mother with her brood, even a portrait of Alfred Hitchcock and a shot of a couple asleep.
The days of “Swinging London” were over, England was paralyzed by strikes and power cuts. Schumacher produced neither postcards nor social reportage, epitomizing Switzerland in highrise tenements on the edge of town, inter alia, or a still life with Sinalco ash tray and Knorr spice stand. Many of the shots taken on the fly through the windows of cars or trains are blurred, imbued with a poetic, dreamlike quality.
Of the 3,000-odd black-and-white pictures he took that one year, Schumacher has selected about 120. In their associative, sometimes filmic sequential arrangement, the pictures suggest stories that may lie behind them.