The hat symbolizes the man, the human presence, and the work
It highlights the relationship between human beings and earth (Landscapes, culture, and human connections)
The last picture is the rest. The Man is done with his work
My Secret Geneva
Museums have always been active in shaping our views and perceptions. They help us gain knowledge about past practices yet manage to make the process of learning fresh. We chose museums as “A secret Geneva midterm project” because it is our belief that they provide the most effective way of learning. Since we are university students, we find the idea of time-saving resources essential. Furthermore, a single visit to the museum can assist in exploring in-depth information on a particular subject. Both of us are genuinely interested in nature and its history, as well as in art and archeology. Therefore, we chose to explore the “Museum of Natural History” and “Musée d’Art et d’Histoire” in Geneva.
Let us kick off with the “Museum of Natural History” (Figure 1). To begin with, the museum is located on Route de Malagnou 1. Webster University students can take a train from the Genthod-Bellevue train station to Genève-Eaux-Vives, gare, which is 10 minutes away from the learning center. The museum itself is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm, except Monday when it is closed the whole day. We came there on Saturday at approximately 4 pm. It was not crowded since we witnessed only a few families and students around. What is more, the entrance and Wi are entirely free. Nevertheless, an essential part is bringing the negative PCR / Rapid Antigen test / COVID certificate and an identity document that the staff members check at the entrance. We came to the museum with negative tests, which had to be confirmed with a passport / ID. We had only pictures of passports, and unlike in most restaurants and shopping malls in Geneva, the workers did not accept the photos. We had to go back to the university to get the identity documents and bring them to the museum.
Right after the entrance to the museum, we were surprised to see the real conserved species. Figure 2 below reveals how it looked to us. There were crocodiles, turtles, snakes, and the descriptions of them. Then, when we ascended to the first floor, we saw a cozy cafe, which was, unfortunately, closed because of COVID-19. However, on the same floor, we got a chance to explore an extensive collection of stuffed and preserved animals. For example, the tropical part exhibited camels, donkeys, and leopards. For the record, did you know that the last wild Bactrian camels live in the Gobi desert, where they face an arid climate? In order to resist the drought, such a camel can drink up to 100 liters of water in one go. That is an astonishing fact that we read in the tropical section of the exhibition. Besides, the descriptions of animals and facts about them are written down in both French and English languages. Furthermore, what we have valued on this floor was the contrast between exhibitions. As we have already mentioned, there was a tropical one. Yet, the exhibitions of various species of birds and the Antarctic were present too (Figure 3). Thereupon we checked out the second floor, which manifested such stuffed animals as jellyfish, sharks, and just fish. You can see the demonstration of jellyfish in Figure 4. We found it an exciting idea for the inventors to use glass and metal since they connected biology with art. The last but not the least floor exhibition is dedicated to geosciences, astronomy, and the evolution of man. It may seem boring to some, but the museum practically enlivens the presentation by offering biology-linked games and fun activities (Figure 5). For instance, there is a computer that helps us gain knowledge on the parasite ecology and the parasite of the day. By clicking on each concept, profound information on the topic is provided. We think that it is a great idea to come up with such activities since this exact way the younger generation can be attracted to the museums as much as the older one. Overall, the “Museum of Natural History” is a considerable place to visit for those who want to learn more about animals and geosciences yet make the observations fun and absorbing. Our personal museum experience is absolutely positive. We have enjoyed it and definitely recommend everyone to check out the exceptional quality of the museum.
After spending quite some time exploring flora and fauna, we decided to visit the “Musée d’Art et d’Histoire” (Figure 6 and 7), which is located on Rue Charles-Galland 2 and, for the record, is 8 minutes away by walking from the “Museum of Natural History.” It is open on Thursday from 12 pm to 9 pm; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday from 11 am until 6 pm; closed on Monday. First things first, we were impressed by the dimensions of the museum. It seemed vast and eventually emerged to be so. Besides, built in 1910, the building is pretty ancient. When entering, the negative PCR / Rapid Antigen test / COVID certificate was required as well as the original identity documents. We came there at about 5 pm, and it was crowded. The entrance and Wi-Fi are free. We decided to start our visit with the exhibition on antique fashion. At the outset, not only were we impressed by the ancient dresses, costumes, and shoes, but we got a chance to look at how these clothes were produced. Near one of the 18th century pink dresses, there was a TV where visitors observed how and which materials were being used to make the dress (Figure 8). It is a fun arrangement that is certain to amuse a regular visit to the museum. As well as a great idea to manifest the contrast between the technology (in this case the TV) and the historical stuff in the present-day time. Then we came across a small shop, where guests buy such souvenirs, as postcards (2 franks), bags (10-15 franks), etc. (Figure 9). Thereupon we have entered the room of ancient military and hunting supplies. It looked fascinating to Misha since he is a fan of earlier special forces. As for Angelina, she loves cooking, and therefore it was interesting to explore the food that middle- and high-class people prepared before (Figure 10). Later, we decided to check out the art exhibition (Figure 11). We believe this part of being our favorite since art is our common interest. The pictures of the museum exhibits are all quite big and of various artists from different times. We carefully surveyed portraits, as well as religious illustrations. Above all, we were fond of landscape drawings. Have a look at figure 12, which is the drawing called “La Montagna.” We liked it a lot due to the direct rays of sunshine on one of the mountains in Geneva. Closer to the end, we surveyed the Japanese culture. There was a broad exposition of Fans in Japan, made of paper on a bamboo frame. As a matter of fact, fans are an integral part of Japanese rituals and an essential accessory in theatres, shows, and traditional dances. They are highly successful products that were sold out from the very beginning. Eventually, we have concluded our visit with a quick glance at the archeology exhibition since the museum was about to close. Besides, there is a café that does not work because of COVID-19. Yet, it provides a beautiful garden where visitors can get some fresh air (Figure 13). An overall, the “Musée d’Art et d’Histoire” is a great learning center that offers various exhibitions and lots of historical artifacts. In such museums, visitors learn actively when they reflect on their own impressions and construct personal interpretations. It is highly recommended by us, especially for those genuinely interested in plunging into the past of art, fashion, and archeology with the help of such a good-quality museum.
Suppose we compare the “Museum of Natural History” and “Musée d’Art et d’Histoire,” then a few points need to be mentioned. First of all, the first museum focuses on exhibitions of stuffed animals, whereas the second one on art, history, and archeology. These are exciting fields that are very distinct yet, so significant for common knowledge. Second of all, the first museum has more fun activities than the second one in general. Unfortunately, today mostly the older generation visits museums and contributes to the development of communities. However, the promotion of education needs to be taken into consideration by the younger generation too. By doing fun activities in the museums, we can attract students and thus influence the value of knowledge in present-day societies. What’s more, as for us, Misha is a fan of animals and therefore liked the first museum more. Although his major at Webster university is management, he spends his free time gaining knowledge on creatures. However, it is his belief that the second museum is way bigger. He would prefer surveying more animals of different categories and read more various facts in the first museum. As for Angelina, she enjoyed the second museum more since her university major is international relations, and thus she is a fan of history. She found particularly interesting the exhibition of archeology due to the fact that she could observe the tangible evidence of our ancestors. Despite that, we enjoyed visiting the museums, and we think that the beauty of art is what these two have in common. We believe that these museums are community centers that offer various interpretations of illumination. The expositions of stuffed animals, links between fashion and history, religious drawings, and cultural illustrations establish art.
All in all, we visited two precious community centers, which are the “Museum of Natural History” and “Musée d’Art et d’Histoire.” We strongly believe that museums provide an effective way of learning and are not time-consuming at all. They inspire us to study, give us an opportunity to develop culturally and are a great way to spend time with friends or family. When visiting a museum, we recommend you take notes of the information or facts that are usually written under exhibitions. Taking photos is also a great way to capture the moment. As for these two secret places in Geneva, they are highly recommended by us for anyone who wants to spend time educationally yet amusingly.
By: Anhelina Tkachenko
Shooting with a digital camera and doing studio photography is my cup of tea. There is something about having control of the whole entire frame that sparks creativity and joy in me. I have always been a fan of Chiaroscuro and the use of only one light source to illuminate the figures. Throughout these years of study, I have had the wonderful opportunity to explore several themes and styles through different artists from different cultures yet, the most influential artist I aspire to is Caravaggio. Caravaggio is known to be one of the most influential people to master light and discovering Chiaroscuro. When first learning how to use the lights in the studio, I automatically saw myself replicating his paintings and create more of a dramatic effect by illuminating only part of the figure. I then began to experiment with different backgrounds and different lighting which was a completely different world but one of which I could still control. The belief is that everyone has their preferred side to be photographed and details that they prefer not to see in photographs. I ask them to trust in the photographer and allow me, with their consent, to unveil their beauty in a way that they have never seen before This is what I live for, because everyone is unique and beautiful in their own way, however, it’s the photographer’s job to transmit that to the viewer.
Black and white photography works very well with Chiaroscuro and studio lighting in general, yet the intensity and feelings it can bring to a viewer are incomparable to color photographs. It creates curiosity and mystery while leaving an abundant amount of space for imagination and the interpretation of each individual.
The series of images represented show the human body, there is a various mix of people in these images where the youngest individual is a 9-year-old and goes up to a 60-year-old while moving behind the lens to photograph the artist herself. In the series, there is a range of portraits, unidentifiable bodies, and small details photographed in an unusual way. A few years ago when I was just introduced to photography I moved into a different type of mentality where I wanted to make the usual look unusual; for example, in this series, there is an image of an arm and a wrist. I did not want to make this image immediately recognizable but make the viewer take a second look at the image to understand what they are looking at. For this reason, there is no detail of the fingers or of the elbow.
Studio photography is my passion and where I feel most at ease. There are so many different ways to view the world yet everything changes even more when seen through a lens. I look forward to continuing to look for new ideas and inspiration as I pursue a photography career.
A practice, behavior, or habit generally considered wrong or taboo in a society.
A fault, negative character trait, or bad and unhealthy habits.
For my vices project I decided to portray common and often overlooked vices in everyday life. The series follows what could be considered “a day in the life” of anyone, rather than a specific person. Some of the vices apply to me, some do not, but they are all devices or activities that are considered socially acceptable and yet they have negative effects.
The photos go from bed to bed, from waking up to falling asleep. Each photo has a linking element to the photo prior to show that they are happening in order and one vice often leads to others. The linking element changes in each photo but it’s everything from a phone, to wine glasses, and lipstick on the cigarette. They are hopefully noticeable but not where the eye goes first and maybe even require a second look.
Most of the vices are self explanatory, but religion slightly less so. From my perspective religion is meant to be a good thing but people often miss-interpret and miss-quote scripture to justify bad behaviors such as homophobia.
Polina Bessonova is a Russian born analog photographer working in her own lab in Florence, Italy. Analog is a method that combines photography with chemistry to develop and process the film that you shoot photographs on as well as to create physical prints. She is a graduate of Webster Geneva and continued her studies by getting a photography masters at Studio Arts College International. Her focus is on film photography and she teaches workshops in her lab as well as showing her work in exhibitions and in her newly published book “At Home.”
Before Webster, back in Russia, I was working as a radio presenter so I went to Webster to get a Media Communications degree with an emphasis on Radio Production. But then I discovered analog photography and never took a single radio class!
I have always had the urge of documenting my life, so I started blogging and doing digital travel photos when I was 16. I was also doing some paid digital photoshoots, as I really liked showing people their own beauty. However, the medium didn’t satisfy me much, as it was way too easy, and I was spending too much time in front of the laptop. I consider the real date of starting photography to be September 2010, when I processed my first roll of film and fell in love. Another important date would be the summer of 2011, when I made the commitment to stick with analog no matter what.
I would not be where I am now without Francesco Arese Visconti, who back in 2010 was just teaching the Photo program. It was so important to see that analog photography can actually be a real job. You can teach, do documentaries and art, travel with a large format camera, and get published. Witnessing him do all of that made me believe that I could too. Since then I just did it.
I don’t think it is. The world wouldn’t notice if I never photographed at all. However, since I started being more active on social media, I got hundreds of messages from people who watched my videos, read my posts and got inspired to set up darkrooms or buy film cameras.
I have zero pressure about any kind of specific subjects, because my actual work is on the teaching side. I’m researching, reading, testing and learning every day, but the images themselves can be anything I wish. It’s such a nice and rare setup. I can go from portraits to reportage to still life to landscape; whatever I feel like on this specific day. I generally like metaphoric images of random objects.
There is an increasing amount of people wanting to learn analog photography and darkroom printing. They make time and money investments, come to workshops or take individual courses. I mainly encounter film lovers with engineering/IT backgrounds, but there are also artists willing to learn a new medium of self-expression, doctors who have a hobby darkroom in their basement, or digital photographers wanting to get their hands into chemistry.
It was a big shift from taking random photographs to making a series. It’s like you’ve always been rhyming two words, and suddenly you have to put together an entire poem. It’s a challenge, and I love challenges. And you can certainly express yourself more in a poem. The book’s title was “At Home” I would love to make a second one, or do another edition with extra images.
Good luck, and keep a backup second job, at least in the beginning. And make sure you aren’t allergic to chemistry.