St. Benedict Chapel, Sumvitg, from the Zumthor Project / scores and images (Sheet: I)
Hans Danuser, Peter Zumthor

Gelatin silver print
19¹¹⁄₁₆ × 15¾"

In 1987, Peter Zumthor (b. 1943) commissioned the photographer Hans Danuser (b. 1953) to portray his newly built chapel Sogn Benedetg in the village of Sumvitg, in the Swiss Alps. The atmospheric black‐and‐white photographs marked the radical shift from a documentary device in the style of straight photography of architecture to an artistic interpretation of the architectural work. These photographs stood at the beginning of a series of fruitful dialogues between architects and photographers as testified by the cases of Herzog & de Meuron and Thomas Ruff, Gigon Guyer and Heinrich Helfenstein, Peter Zumthor and Hélène Binet. Danuser was known for his photographs of the interior spaces of nuclear power plants. His photographic campaigns evoked a conflict that during the 1980s remained invisible and could not be easily articulated, in part because of the debate on the apparently conflicting dependence of the Alpine regions on the production of hydroelectricity and the exploitation of the landscape’s beauty for tourism purposes. The photographs Danuser made of Zumthor’s architecture proposed a link between the isolated chapel and the problem of postindustrialization, rendering evident a discontinuity of space and time that few contemporaries were able to grasp. —Philip Ursprung

(Photo: MoMA)