Photography Residency | Inspired by Annemarie Schwarzenbach 
April 28 – June 9. 2022

*Application deadline is April 15

The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and The Light Factory are partnering to hold a residency for photographers and photojournalists in Charlotte and the surrounding regions. This residency is inspired by the Bechtler’s newest exhibition Annemarie Schwarzenbach: Departure without Destination presented in collaboration with Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, Switzerland, and curated by Martin Waldmeier with the Zentrum Paul Klee. 


The residency will start with a private tour of the exhibition to explore Schwarzenbach’s photos and writings. Residents will take inspiration from these works and subsequent conversations to create their own body of photos and writings. The group will meet once for an in-progress critique, then meet again to share their finished products and discuss how the work should be shared with the community. All residents will then present their work to the community in the form of a panel discussion held in the exhibition space, where select works will be projected on the wall. Finally, the work will go to the VAPA center to be placed on display for members of the community to view.

Panel Discussion

Join us Thursday, June 9th at 6 PM for a special panel discussion as select artists from the Photography Residency present their own body of photos and writings from inspiration found within Schwarzenbach's works and subsequent conversations. The panel is an opportunity for select recipients to discuss the exhibition’s themes, the objects therein, and their time during the residency. With a diverse group, this program helped to strengthen the community and bring together artists that may not have had an opportunity to work together previously. 

Click here for more information 


April 15, 2022Application Deadline
April 28 | 6 PM Gallery tour at the Bechtler
May 19 | 6 PM  In-progress critique and discussion
May 26 | 6 PMShare final work and make plans for panel discussion and exhibtion 
June 9 | 6 PMPanel discussion at the Bechtler, presentation of select work
Date TBDExhibition opens to the public at the VAPA Center


The application deadline has passed. 

About the Exhibition

Writer, journalist, photographer, traveler, cosmopolitan and fashion icon Annemarie Schwarzenbach (1908-1942) was one of the most dazzling and contradictory figures in modern Swiss cultural history. Consumed by wanderlust, a desire for social progress, and a sense of adventure, Schwarzenbach traveled extensively through Europe, Central Asia, Central and North Africa, and the United States between 1933 and her death in 1942. While Schwarzenbach saw herself primarily as a writer, she was a pioneer of photojournalism in Switzerland.

Schwarzenbach was born in 1908 into the affluent Schwarzenbach-Wille family of Zurich industrialists and graduated with degrees in history in Zurich and Paris. Because of her political and sexual orientation, she turned her back on her conservative family and established connections with the German literary diaspora, particularly with the siblings Klaus and Erika Mann. In 1931 she lived in Berlin before moving, after the National Socialist seizure of power, to Spain, Russia and Iran, where she published prose and journalistic writings.

Despite her years-long struggle with drug dependency, over the course of the 1930s, Schwarzenbach professionalized herself as a travel and features journalist. On joint trips with female writers and photographers such as Ella Maillart, Marianne Breslauer and Erika Mann, she turned her attention to social and political subjects, including the rise of National Socialism, the workers’ movement in the United States, the consequences of modernization and the role of women in society. Her photographs, though, also reveal a longing for foreign lands and the poetry of travel. Some 300 articles by Schwarzenbach were published in Swiss magazines and newspapers in her lifetime. From 1933 these articles were increasingly accompanied by her own pictures, although most of Schwarzenbach’s photographs remained unpublished before her death at the age of 34.

When her literary work was rediscovered in the 1980s, Schwarzenbach became celebrated as a writer, female pioneer and gay icon. Her gender-bending fashion sense and her lifestyle were the inspiration for Clare Waight Keller’s Spring/Summer 2019 line for the fashion house Givenchy. 

It was not until recently that Schwarzenbach’s contributions to photography have been recognized. Her images and writings are closely intertwined and document the upheavals, tensions and conflicts of the period leading up to World War II. Schwarzenbach’s photographs also convey private themes, such as life in exile, the search for identity, homosexuality and the desire to transgress conventional gender roles. Above all, though, the photographs express Schwarzenbach’s unbridled passion for travel – and her search for encounters with the unknown, the “departure without destination” as an existential experience.

Annemarie Schwarzenbach: Departure Without Destination is supported by the Infusion Fund and its generous donors, as well the City of Charlotte and Foundation for the Carolinas. Additional sponsorship provided by Bellecapital, Brighthouse Financial, and Truist with additional support provided by the North Carolina Arts Council and the Arts and Science Council.

Photographer Unknown, Portrait of Annemarie Schwarzenbach with Camera, 1939 © Esther Gambaro, Estate of Marie-Louise Bodmer-Preiswerk

ex © 2023 Bechtler Museum of Modern Art All images and content copyright. All rights reserved. Credits: Design: MODE. Artwork Photography: JoAnn Sieburg-Baker, David Ramsey General Photography: Eric Bahrs, Mitchell Kearney, Gary O'Brien, Nancy Pierce, Maxim Vakhovskiy Copywriting: Pam Davis Charlotte Skyline Photo: courtesy of Visit Charlotte School of Paris: John Boyer (Copy), MODE (Design)
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