When we look at all of Pauline Schneeberger’s work, her sensitivity towards social issues is obvious.
Whether it is her series on the homeless, or the one dedicated to people with multiple disabilities, Pauline approaches these subjects with tenderness and modesty, forcing the viewer to question himself.
Here, we talk with her about social commitment in art, the relationship between her activities as a photographer and a specialized educator, and many other things…
Hi Pauline, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
French-Swiss photographer, but not only. I would also define myself as a (photographer) plastic artist, because I do not necessarily confine myself to pure photography. I like to play with the different tools that our current society makes available.
I currently reside in Switzerland after spending four years in France studying photography.
“Photography came into my life at the age of six […]”
How did you start taking pictures?
Photography came into my life at the age of six thanks to the superb children’s camera that my parents had given me.
My father, an amateur and passionate photographer, cultivated our common passion by showing me how to use his Canon film camera. Later I will become the proud owner of.
“[…] I am also a specialized educator and I wanted to bring these two worlds together.”
You are an educator specialized in the field of multiple disabilities, you have also made a very beautiful series on this theme, “Are you handicapped?!”. It is a topic that is rarely addressed. How did you come up with the idea for this series, and is disability a theme you would like to address again in future work?
As you said, I am also a specialized educator and I wanted to bring these two worlds together.
The series “Are you handicapped?!” is rooted in the work I do at Espace Perce-Neige Fleurier in Switzerland. During the eleven years I spent with these people with multiple disabilities, I got to know them, to truly love them. These people taught me a lot about the world, life, sharing, myself.
“[…]my altruistic and challenging nature intensifies the social purpose of my subjects. “
I wanted to work on the bond that connects us, the moments of simple and pure exchanges, real and complicit. Those moments with them when I feel like myself, completely, existing to the very end of my nails.
I would like to be able to continue this series because I have only photographed a minority of the people living at Espace Perce-Neige.
You also did a series, which I like very much, “Invisible”, in which you take pictures of the shelters of homeless people. Do you think art should be socially committed?
I would not say that art must be socially committed, but for my part it is important to have a subject to transmit, to claim, to explore…
“The topics I would like to discuss […] all meet the same criteria: a desire to move towards the other, the unknown.”
I use photography as a means of communication, and my altruistic and challenging nature intensifies the social purpose of my subjects.
In my opinion, art must be public and not elitist. It must be able to move the neophyte as well as the professional. In a way, photography allows me to build bridges between worlds that may never cross.
Are there any particular social topics you would like to photograph in future series?
The topics I would like to discuss in the near future are diverse, but they all meet the same criteria: a desire to move towards the other, the unknown.
To be more specific, it would be to talk about taboos, to get out of them…
“I think that every artist will dig into themselves to give to others.”
You often stage yourself in your work. What does integrating yourself physically into your work add to your creative process?
The fact that I am staging myself in my projects is, I think, due to the fact that the subjects I am talking about touch me, challenge me.
I think that every artist will dig into themselves to give to others. From my point of view, any project is subjective because it begins with an inner questioning to try to find an answer.
“[…] like a scientist behind their microscope, my camera is my tool to try to understand the world. “
I search within myself, and then go beyond myself, towards others, without there being necessarily a single and true answer. It also allows me to constantly question myself, to evolve.
What are the things that inspire you?
There are a lot of things that inspire me, but very often, as I said earlier, taboo subjects tickle me more than others. Injustice is also a strong point in the choice of my subjects. But everything could be a source of inspiration, I am very curious and like a scientist behind their microscope, my camera is my tool to try to understand the world.
“[…] I would like to be able to open my “Invisible” project to other French cities […] and also at the European level…”
Do you have any projects for 2019 that you can tell us about?
In 2019, I would like to be able to open my “Invisible” project to other French cities than Toulouse and also at the European level… that’s all I can reveal…