Nowadays, a third of the Swiss population is directly – or through their parents – born from immigration. Without the influx – predominantly European – of the last sixty years, this large section of the population would not exist. In addition, a quarter of residents in Switzerland are foreign born: immigration, demographically, is therefore a crucial factor in the contemporary history of this nation. («L’immigration en Suisse, soixante ans d’entrouverture», Etienne Piguet, collection le savoir suisse, 2013)

From this observation, I developed a photographic and research work on Switzerland and on the Swiss identity. Who are the Swiss? What are their origins?

This project provides a portrait of six emblematic Swiss families chosen to provide an eloquent testimony to the diversity of spoken languages, of religious orientations, and of the many historical and geographical origins of the Swiss population, putting in perspective a Swiss identity defined by its differences.

In order to give a solid basis to the investigation, I identified the families based on interviews with scholars of Swiss history in different universities of the French-speaking Switzerland. The families that are taken into account are: von Reding (Schwyz), de Weck (Fribourg), Dufour (Genève), Fantoni (Brig), de Beauclair (Ascona), Garcia (Zürich).

Being unable to tell the story of each family exhaustively, I identified one member per family that illustrates the century in which he lived. The selected family members reflect the importance of their family in Swiss history, whether political, military, economic or religious. Thus, in the families stories I illustrate, we find a mercenary in the service of Spain who became governor of Malaga (Theodor Reding, 1755-1809), the General of the Swiss Army during the Sonderbund War in 1847 (Guillaume-Henry Dufour, 1787-1875), the first sister established in the only Protestant community in Switzerland (Marguerite de Beaumont, 1886-1958), an ambassador in Bucharest during the Second World War (René de Weck, 1887-1950) or a director of UBS (Philippe de Weck, 1919-2009).

After the earliest dynasties and the ones that have obtained Swiss nationality in more recent times, I then dedicated a final chapter to the «Future Swiss», to people who have recently embarked on the naturalization procedure and for which the present and future history as a Swiss begins now.

From family archives, reproductions of portraits of ancestors and their successors , I have constructed a kind of visual genealogy specific to each family. This is enriched by portraits of descendants made between March and September 2016. The iconography that emerges shows a variety of contents that depends on the longevity of the family in Switzerland: the oldest are made up of a corpus of richer images. Through these, I inscribe individual photographs in a thematic context – that of the family – and inserts them in a narrative framework that is the history of Switzerland.