This publication brings together a selection of family photos
taken between the 1930s and 1950s by amateur photographer Anne-Marie von
Wolff. A fascinating, powerful work, brought to light by her
great-grandniece, artist Mimi von Moos.
Anne-Marie von Wolff (1893–1974) grew up in Lucerne, where she was an
outsider from an early age. Epileptic seizures, tuberculosis and the claim
that her disease had caused the death of her niece increasingly made her a
child pariah, but may have also made her such an attentive observer of her
family and immediate surroundings. Her camera eventually gave her a place
in the family fold and in the narrow world she inhabited. She is said to
have been taciturn and rather austere, but her photographs of everyday
life in Lucerne, a summer holiday in Les Mayens de Sion and a visit to her
cousin, journalist and writer Karl von Schumacher, at Schloss Mauensee
testify to her tenderness as well as her eye for strong compositions. But
her artistic talent went unnoticed during her lifetime. That changed when
her great-grandniece, Mimi von Moos, happened upon some of her photos
stowed in a banana box at her grandfather's house. To date Mimi von Moos
has gathered some fifteen hundred black-and-white photos shot by
Anne-Marie von Wolff from the 1930s to the 1950s.
In Mimi von Moos' literary essays, she writes about viewing these
photographs of a bygone epoch from a present-day perspective and draws on
them to piece together a portrait of the all-but invisible and unknowable
photographer. Die Verwandte (“My Kinswoman”) explores
various aspects of photography on the basis of a most unusual find. This
critical endeavor is rounded out by transcribed interviews with family
members and an essay by artist and philosopher of language Tine Melzer,
which delve deeper into the luminous imagery of a long-gone relative who
always kept a bit apart, in the shadows, behind the camera.
Mimi von Moos (born 1969 in Lucerne, lives and works in Basel and Rotterdam) studied visual arts at the Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst in Basel. She began her creative career as a jewelry designer and has been a freelance artist since 2011.