Censorship of the book by Christian Lutz
“In 2003, Swiss photographer Christian Lutz (1973) initiated a photographic investigation on the issue of power. Each of the three components of this investigation led to the publication of a book by Lars Müller Publishers: Protokoll (2007) on political power; Tropical Gift (2010, winning project of the Vevey international photo Award 2009/2010) on economic power; and finally, In Jesus’ Name (2012) on religious power.
However, legal proceedings led to a ban of In Jesus’ Name upon its release. Twenty-one people appearing in the book individually filed a complaint against Christian Lutz and his publisher, on the basis of their image rights. The photographer and his publisher appeared before the Zurich Civil Court on 24 January 2013. The Law temporarily confirmed this censorship.
At the Heart of Religious Power
ICF (International Christian Fellowship) is one of the most important free churches in Switzerland. Its success and rapid expansion are a matter of public concern. Created according to the American model of megachurches, it was initiated in Zurich at the end of the 90s, and has now spread throughout Roman Switzerland thanks to a solid establishment in Lausanne and Geneva. It manages a considerable budget and is characterized by the use of sophisticated and performing marketing and communication methods.
Christian Lutz met the pastor and founder of the Evangelical movement ICF, Leo Bigger, in May 2011. He then introduced him to the other church managers to whom the photographer also presented his project, his former books, his approach and the stakes involved in his Trilogy. He was subsequently granted express consent from the managers who welcomed him in the community.
The photographer nonetheless still systematically kept requesting specific authorizations to the organizers for each ICF’s activity which he wished to participate in and photograph. He joined in several trips and summer camps organized by the church, and took part in all sorts of events: celebrations, baptisms, ladies lounge, blood donation, theater show, workshop on the addiction to pornography, etc. He met members of the church, exchanged constantly with them, and freely discussed his reportage. As for each of his series, Christian Lutz immerged himself totally, photographing faces and individuals up close while fully respecting a rigorous deontology. He was given an ICF photo-reporter badge, and affiliates or organizers of activities regularly ordered prints from him. He thus photographed openly, each one being aware of the project and accepting to be part of it.”
In the light of the above, the Festival Images joins Christian Lutz, his publisher and the Musée de l’Elysée in their concern and bewilderment. This breach of freedom of speech and of artistic expression is all the more surprising given that the purpose of Christian Lutz’s photography is nothing else but to show what he sees. In a non-partisan way, In Jesus’ Name highlights the functioning of a religious enterprise and of the individual sharing this living together. It appears to be the first art book dedicated to the evangelist phenomenon.
More information : http://lutzphoto.net/
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