Michael Bodenmann’s latest book creates a non-linear pictorial tapestry of his time in China

Designed by Samuel Bänziger, Rosario Florio and Larissa Kasper, the Jungle Books publication evokes the subjective narrative of the Swiss photographer’s time in China.

11 March 2020
Reading Time
2 minute read


Michael Bodenmann started taking analogue photographs on his travels at an early age. He studied photography at the Zurich University of the Arts followed by a master’s at the same school, and as Michael honed his craft, analogue photography naturally became his preferred medium. On a trip to Hangzhou in China on his exchange semester, Michael delved further into the method, capturing a pictorial tapestry of the landscape.

The resulting photographs make up the recently published photobook Research for Peace Love Warrior Dragon. Designed by Samuel Bänziger, Rosario Florio and Larissa Kasper, the Jungle Books publication is curated to evoke a subjective narrative depending on the viewer’s interpretation. Images appear fragmented in the delicately designed book, it’s a deliberate decision made by the well-known designers to expand the readers’ associations with the topics at hand.

Also featuring postcards collected on the trip as a contextual supplement to the images, the visuals infer an open-ended conversation around what is happening in the images. “It shows the journey in a non-linear sequence with repetitions and cuts,” Michael tells It’s Nice That. “Just as the journey was in my perception.” The viewer is invited to craft an individual experience for themselves through the lens of Michael’s photographs, and by looking at the beautiful images laid against or next to each other, we create our own narratives around the images.


Michael Bodenmann: Research for Peace Love Warrior Dragon 

It also features texts by the art historian and curator Gabrielle Schaad, as well as an account of Clifford E Bruckmann. First, Gabrielle discusses the conditions and context of the images and their creation. Whereas Clifford negotiates a subjective account through writing similar to the photographer’s intention. In this way, the text offers up different accounts of written storytelling, touching on both the abstract and the subjective, much like the duality of the photographic body of work.

While studying at the China Academy of Arts, studying under Yang Fudong and Qiu Zhijie, the 10x15cm formats depict myriad moments in the Chinese city. A young girl roller skates across a vast concrete plane, a few skyscrapers lurking in the distance. A workman in a bright blue uniform takes a break, head down, looking in between his legs while sitting on a tiled ledge separating an urban walkway with a neatly kept lawn. Elsewhere, an old man balances on one foot beside an otherwise empty bus stop as if he is mid-martial-arts-movement, peacefully enjoying a moment by himself.

For Michael, “everything was a highlight,” on his trip. And in the future, he hopes he can travel through China and stay to explore its cities and culture more. The book reflects this mentality, with no beginning and no end in terms of the narrative. The visual experience gives light to Michael’s experience, exuding a care and attention to detail echoed throughout Michael’s conscientious lens. The body of work represents a feeling rather than a documentarian experience, shedding light on a visceral experience rather a fixed storyline.

GalleryMichael Bodenmann: Research for Peace Love Warrior Dragon

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Michael Bodenmann: Research for Peace Love Warrior Dragon 

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.


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