Through photographic documentation and essay, Altar documents the widespread human urge to elevate secular things to the status of “ritual objects” and combine them to form private altars. Whether they're dust catchers, knickknacks, souvenirs, found objects, meaningful artworks or earnestly and deeply revered objects, they all tell a peculiar story—not in words, but in things—about whoever built the altar.
For some time now, Rosa Schamal has been pursuing her fascination with “insignificant” things which, when displayed, exert a sometimes banal, sometimes stirring effect, through the lens of a camera.
Peter Schneider's essay outlines various ways of understanding the implicit order in these “little things”. Manuel Süess designed and laid out the book, fusing text and photos into a harmonious whole.
“Nothing has more directly to do with my life than these found, fortuitous, selected things.” (D.H. in B., 35 years old)
“My loved ones. I wish I could have had them all around me. But then came strife, divorce, illness, death. Here on the dresser they're all united, regardless of where they ended up.” (B.Z. from H., 82 years old)
“The essentials often come together in a single object: love, faith, hope, beauty… homeland!” (C.H. from K., 58 years old)
Rosa Schamal (born 1962), an Austrian and Swiss national, studied visual design and art in Florence and Zürich. She is now a designer, mother and gardener, as well as an activist for environmentalist social projects.
Peter Schneider (born 1957, lives and works in Zürich), is a psychoanalyst, satirist and columnist and a visiting professor of science history and theory of psychoanalysis in Berlin.
Manuel Süess (born 1962, lives and works in Zürich) is a graphic designer, typographer and book designer for several publishers (Atlantis, Orell Füssli, Werd-Verlag, SNM, sabe, Wörterseh, Lars Müller Publishers et al.) as well as a freelance visual designer.