The OPEN YOUR EYES 2023 Festival has started!

Zurich, 8 and 9 September 2023. „We have come together to celebrate life,“ said Lois Lammerhuber, artistic director and mastermind of the photo festival, summing up the essence of this new festival format.

Limmatquai: SDG14 – Jennifer Hayes – Two Worlds: Above and Below the Sea
© ETH Zürich/Allesandro Della Bella

In the heart of Zurich, from 8 September to 15 October 2023, photographers and scientists jointly present a unique new communication format. It promotes a new era of understanding the world. The focus is on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

Seebad Enge: SDG15 – Michael Nichols – WILD
© ETH Zürich/Allesandro Della Bella

At the invitation of Christian von Rechenberg, Director of the venerable Hotel Baur au Lac, the President of the open your eyes association Hans-Rudolf Strasser gave the opening speech followed by a keynote address by the Rector of ETH Zurich Günther Dissertori: „The cooperation with open your eyes is a wonderful, really wonderful opportunity for ETH Zurich to come into contact with the public in a completely new way. The central motive of the festival is curiosity, the curiosity of the photographers to put a theme into the picture, the curiosity of festival visitors who come into contact with the festival specifically or perhaps only as strollers in the city. Curiosity is also the interface to the university. Curiosity is precisely what drives us at ETH Zurich every day, that is, in our studies or in our research. And in this sense, I’m looking forward to a stimulating and surprising festival that will really open up new perspectives.“

Lindenhof: SDG3 – Esther Haase – Rock ‘N‘ Old
© ETH Zürich/Allesandro Della Bella

Under the patronage of the Swiss Federal Council’s delegate for the 2030 Agenda – represented at the opening by Daniel Dubas – the association OPEN YOUR EYES, ETH Zurich, one of the world’s leading universities, and The Photo Society (TPS), the association of more than 200 National Geographic photographers, have created spacious open-air installations. In 17 exhibition islands, they interweave documentary and artistic photography with scientific evidence to create a plea for peace, tolerance and a humanistic spirit of coexistence.

Lindenhof: SDG3 – Esther Haase – Rock ‘N‘ Old
© ETH Zürich/Allesandro Della Bella

The artist talks by James Balog and Pulitzer Prize winner Renée C. Byer captivated the journalists from Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain and the USA, as did the concluding panel discussion chaired by Claudia Zingerli, Head ETH Sustainability of ETH Zurich. They had all travelled to witness how the aesthetic magic of picture narratives transforms the gardens, streets and squares of Zurich into a picture city, and how public space becomes the stage set for a total work of art whose meaning is linked to research results and innovations that affect us all.

Wühre: SDG14 – David Doubilet – Two Worlds: Above and Below the Sea 
© ETH Zürich/Allesandro Della Bella

The photographic works are not to be understood as illustrations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but as comments and remarks in the sense of Cornell Capa’s „Concerned Photographers“. Capa chose this term to describe works that go beyond documenting events and show them with a humanitarian impulse. This school of thought is also known as a concept related to science: The term „Concerned Scientists“ is used to describe the use of independent science to solve our planet’s most pressing problems.

Photographers from left to right: Lois Lammerhuber, Chris de Bode, Ciril Jazbec, Esther Haase, Randy Olson, Cássio Vasconcellos, Peter Menzel, Shana & Robert ParkeHarrison, George Steinmetz, Gerd Ludwig, Markus Eisl, Maryam Firuzi, Gerald Mansberger, Ana María Arévalo Gosen, Anna Boyiazis, Nina Gorfer
© Arnd Wiegmann

The line-up of photographers at the open your eyes festival is unique: Esther Haase, Chris de Bode, Maryam Firuzi, George Steinmetz, Ciril Jazbec, Ana María Arévalo Gosen, Jodi Cobb, Vera Mercer, Dominic Nahr, David Doubilet & Jennifer Hayes, Rina Castelnuovo & Jim Hollander with Tsafir Abayov, Eli Reed, Steve McCurry, Bea Bar Kallos, Roger Ballen, Ziv Koren, Stuart Franklin, Lois Lammerhuber, Brent Stirton, Peter DeJong, Patrick Zachmann, Gilles Peress, Alfred Yaghobzadeh, Alec Soth, Peter Turnley, Peter Menzel with Alexandra Boulat, Miguel Luis Fairbanks, Peter Ginter, Leong Ka Tai and Louis Psihoyos; Renée C. Byer, Cássio Vasconcellos, Jerome Gence, Gerd Ludwig, Randy Olson, James Balog, Shana & Robert ParkeHarrison, Cooper&Gorfer, Anna Boyiazis, Michael Nichols, Goran Tomašević, Markus Eisl and Gerald Mansberger from eoVision and CERN’s special exhibition „Code of the Universe“.

Kirche St. Peter: SDG2 – George Steinmetz – Feed the Planet 
© Arnd Wiegmann

Many of them met on Saturday, 9 September 2023, on the Polyterrasse of ETH Zurich, whose President Joël Mesot introduced the Media Day with a programmatic speech, followed by a fundamental statement on the impact of photography by Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Art Director & Chief Representative Leica Galleries International.

James Balog speaks in front of his exhibition „A Time Capsule from the Anthropocene“. 
© Peter-Matthias Gaede

Media Day means visiting all the exhibitions together and discussing them in dialogue between photographers and scientists. ETH Zurich was represented by: Elliot Ash, Paolo Burlando, Sebastian Kahlert, Alexander Mathys, Eva-Marie Meemken, Ulrike Pfreundt, Effy Vayena, Alexandra Cron, Nives Zindel and Claudia Zingerli.

General Guisan Quai: SDG9 – Gerd Ludwig – The Long Shadow of Chernobyl  
© ETH Zürich/Allesandro Della Bella

Boris Pesek of Alnatura, which generously sponsors the festival, joined these discussions, as did Peter-Matthias Gaede, Gisela Kayser, Silvia Lammerhuber, Fritz Franz Vogel, Lars Boering and Randy Olson.

Kirche St. Peter: SDG2 – George Steinmetz – Feed the Planet
© ETH Zürich/Allesandro Della Bella

The festival divides the exhibitions into a city route – Polyterrasse, Lindenhof, St. Peter, Münsterhof, Frauenmünster, Limmat, Grossmünster – and a Lake Route that leads from General Guisan Quai through the Arboretum to the Seebad Enge. Almost four kilometres long, with free admission.

ETH Polyterrasse: SDG4 – Special exhibition CERN – The Code of the Universe  
© ETH Zürich/Allesandro Della Bella

CEWE printed all the exhibitions and sent the photographers into raptures over the excellent quality. Gerd Ludwig: „The prints are amazingly good. Better than anything I have ever seen at a festival.“ The Zurich company Aroma built the exhibitions. Managing Director Eugen Brunner: „Let yourself be enchanted by the fascinating world of photography.“

In this sense, the motto of the festival stop. think. feel. act. invites you to stop and think and let yourself be enchanted in the best sense of the word.

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open your eyes festival buerau
Bahnhofstrasse 24
8001 Zürich
Phone: +41 44 218 11 03