A photographic journey through motels in small towns in Switzerland.

Swiss photographer Catherine Leutenegger considers herself an archaeologist or an anthropologist, but she also explores virtual reality and digital technology along with its omnipresence in the modern world. In her series Motel, however, she captures a different kind of world, that of small town motels. Traveling across Switzerland, the photographer stopped in various places to visit small, run-down or even abandoned motels. With an artistic approach, she captured both their spirit and distinctive atmosphere. It’s an ambience that seems universal in all motels, regardless of their location.

The images show the buildings themselves in their setting as well as their rooms. A photograph shows a banal motel at the foot of the Swiss Alps in a startling juxtaposition. Another captures the sleepy atmosphere of motels at night. Color becomes the photographer’s paintbrush, both in the exterior shots and the interior ones. The vibrancy of the red, orange, and blue hues becomes especially striking in the more intimate shots of the rooms. Every image has some hidden gems; from the embroidery that decorates what looks like the home of an older couple to the bright red letters of an alarm clock that bring a sense of urgency to an otherwise sedate yellow room. The entire series has a certain cinematic rhythm that brings the often forgotten world of small town motels to life. Photography© Catherine Leutenegger.

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