Musée International
de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge
Musée International
de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge

Dialogues On Humanity

In partnership with Photo Elysée museum

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How can photography help us understand humanitarian principles?

We sometimes feel helpless and overwhelmed by images of crisis, violence, armed conflict and natural disasters. Dialogues On Humanity is a reaction to these feelings. This exhibition aims to offer new perspectives on the importance of humanitarian action. Divided into five themes based on the movement's fundamental principles, the exhibited photgraphs invite us to step back, pause, reflect and feel.

We want to provide a space for discussion about humanity and its evolution. Each group of photographs is accompanied by four questions to which visitors can share their reactions and opinions.

This project has been developed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Photo Elysée Museum and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

  • Access to the exhibition is free of charge.


Matthieu Gafsou, Mafate, 2021, de la série Vivants, 2018-2022 © Matthieu Gafsou, Courtesy Galerie C
Matthieu Gafsou, Mafate, 2021, de la série Vivants, 2018-2022 © Matthieu Gafsou, Courtesy Galerie C
Yang Su, Birds, the Flowers and Them, 2019 © Su Yang
Yang Su, Birds, the Flowers and Them, 2019 © Su Yang

The Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement did not come into being as abstract principles. They originate from the real actions of caring people who spontaneously came to the aid of the wounded and dying on the battlefield of Solferino in 1859. In the aftermath, efforts were made to identify general concepts and guiding principles that could serve as a basis for future humanitarian action. A first attempt to formulate them can be found in Henry Dunant’s “A Memory of Solferino” as early as 1862. The same applies to the Humanitarian Principles. They are now crucial for the UN, its agencies and all states to establish and maintain access to civilian populations affected by natural disaster, armed conflict or other complex emergency situations to address human suffering, wherever found. The purpose of humanitarian action is to protect life and health and ensure respect for human beings in the framework of those principles.


  • Humanity
    Human suffering must be addressed wherever it is found. The purpose of humanitarian action is to protect life and health, and ensure respect for human beings.
  • Impartiality
    Humanitarian action must be carried out on the basis of need alone, giving priority to the most urgent cases of distress and making no distinctions on the basis of nationality, race, gender, religious belief, class or political opinions.
  • Neutrality
    Humanitarian actors must not take sides in hostilities or engage in controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature in order to maintain trust by all.
  • Independence
    Humanitarian action must be autonomous from the political, economic, military or other objectives that any actor may hold with regard to areas where humanitarian action is being implemented.

Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs
While the Humanitarian Principles of Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality and Independence are rooted in Swiss history, they are now more relevant than ever. Indeed, in an increasingly complex and polarised humanitarian environment, principled humanitarian action continues to make a difference in effectively preventing suffering as well as accessing and serving populations in need. We can strengthen these principles by constantly reaffirming and demonstrating their value; by fostering their understanding; and by supporting all actors to implement them. With this art project we want to raise awareness of what it means to apply the Humanitarian Principles not only to humanitarian action, but also to our everyday lives.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
The ICRC is committed to this project as it engages on the four Humanitarian Principles in a different way. It expands the horizon and shows the parallels between art and humanitarian action. The message and essence of the Humanitarian Principles are common and remain undeniably universal. However, the prisms of reading are different from one individual to another; from one situation to another; and from one culture to another. Overall, photography offers a fantastic opportunity to open a necessary dialogue at a time when our attention spans are dramatically decreasing.

Photo Elysée museum
As a museum for photography, we want to challenge the parallelism between art and the Humanitarian Principles and recognise that these principles reach beyond natural disasters as well as wars and are oblivious to age, gender, culture and language. They are equally present in the details of everyday life. Moreover, we consider photography a powerful and relevant medium to offer new perspectives and different representations that echo with societies and the universal issues they raise. In the digital age, many artists challenge new images in their practices. The exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to view the Humanitarian Principles from different angles. As a collection, these photographs remind us not only of the diversity of human experience and the daily presence of humanitarian acts, but also of the versatility and power of the image to convey them.

  • Boris Loder
    Germany, 1982

The artist has a strong interest in storytelling, the image-text relation and the interrelations of human behaviour as well as urban and natural landscapes. The artist realises sculptural photographs which represent a given site’s identity in a condensed form. The cube contains objects collected in a specific location in Luxembourg City.

  • Micheal Lundgren
    USA, 1974

Michael Lundgren is interested in the lack of interaction between humans and nature. He immerses himself in nature and remains aware of the places that were once occupied by human beings. This project is a result of nine years of work. The artist evokes a world with cultural and natural transformations which creates a blur in the interpretation of the purpose of the object.

  • Matthieu Gafsou
    Switzerland, 1981

Over the years, the photographer has focused his work on multiple territories always in connection with contemporary topics (his previous
series were dedicated to transhumanism, faith, our relation to the living, especially to nature). Instead of showing the degradation of our world through global warming or the extinction of biodiversity, he portrays the world through feelings which highlights the relationship between subjects and their environment as well as between humans and non-humans.

  • Erwan Frotin
    France/Switzerland, 1978

Since 2002, Erwan Frotin has developed a body of work that navigates between the real and the surreal with a strong interest in nature. He has created a cabinet of curiosities of paradisical places without human presence. He immortalises the beauty and diversity of the natural world and his surrounding environment.

  • Yang Su
    China, 1989

After working as a successful fashion and commercial photographer, the artist started to develop personal projects. "Birds, The Flowers and them" is about three Chinese individuals who lived in Lausanne (Switzerland) at different times. The artist asked them about the places they call home; what it is like to live in a foreign country; and how they would describe their identities.

  • Sarah Mei Herman
    The Netherlands, 1980

Sarah Mei Herman examines the relationship and intimacy between people with a particular focus on families. In this series, she also portrays the relationship between her father and her half-brother Jonathan, who is 21 years her junior. By photographing her family, she seeks to reveal the connection between family members through memories from her childhood.

  • Senta Simond
    Switzerland, 1985

Following the traditional photographic relationship between the artist and the model, Senta Simond explores female representation through an intimate approach to the portrait and the female body. In this series, she reveals in close-up images the mystery and complexity of being a young woman.

  • Anne-Charlotte Moulard
    France, 1982

Anne-Charlotte Moulard builds images as stories through a highly cinematic lens. She focuses on imperceptible details by photographing often forgotten cities with affection. Stella is the name of the city where Anne-Charlotte grew up. This series addresses the question of home and extends its scope to one’s childhood home. What does our place of birth represent?

  • Nicolas Polli
    Switzerland, 1989

Between humour, reality and editing, Nicolas Polli creates still lifes in which he plays with light and composes surrealist paintings. These offbeat installations represent worlds in which banality, gentleness, doubt and desire are combined.

  • Myriam Boulos
    Lebanon, 1992

Since the age of 16, Myriam Boulos has photographed Beirut for documentaries as well as for her personal research. The experience of living in this city has shaped the way she works. Her art reflects the social transformations influenced by political changes and events that have led to the displacement of thousands of people.

  • Jenna Callewaert
    Switzerland, 1996

The artist explores and confronts the memories built on absence and questions their truthfulness: are memories true or pure fabrications of our mind? She tries to find a part of herself in a country where she once lived with only memories of colors, smells or sensations as her guide. With this series she tries to find the ghost of her memories.

  • Sylwia Kowalczyk
    Poland, 1978

The artist produces images from juxtapositions of interiors, landscapes and individuals. The combination of forms and materials creates a narrative where anonymity or, on the contrary, recognition may affect the way we perceive the subject in the image. Important recollections slip from our memory which makes us wonder whether something that we do not remember really happened.

  • Mathieu Bernard-Reymond
    France/Switzerland, 1976

For over 20 years, the artist has been exploring digital technologies. He depicts a manufactured nature and unveils how images can be manipulated and portrayed in a new way. Generated by artificial intelligence, the images in the Weather series are based on news images with a focus on climate concerns.

  • Linn Phyllis Seeger
    UK-based, 1991

The artist’s work is rooted in digital photographic practices and media. In her artistic work and research, she explores the role of the networked individual within the circulation and retention of personal and global crises. She is interested in the collective and unpaid work to write history on social media. It raises questions about the meaning of history writing and its authors.

  • Marvin Leuvrey
    France, 1992

Marvin Leuvrey experiments with different techniques and uses analogue and digital manipulations in photography, 3D and video. He merges media devices, artificial/man-made nature and people. Based in cities and transitional situations, he shows visually oversaturated environments and the visual aspect of an excess of capitalism in hyperconnected societies.

  • Alina Frieske
    Germany, 1994

Working with digital tools, the artist takes fragments from photographs and assembles them into new images. She works with collage techniques and illustration. Starting by collecting anonymous selfies and images, she proceeds to configure them into digital photomontages that question our relationship with the appropriation of personal and intimate information on the internet.

  • Anastasia Samoylova
    USA, 1984

Anastasia Samoylova’s work explores notions of environmentalism, consumerism and the picturesque. In the "FloodZone" project, she
highlights the dissonance between the growing consumerism of Miami city and the island’s environmental reality which is steadily slipping
underwater. Based on various plans, the image oscillates between artificiality and reality blurring the borders between them.

  • Renate Aller
    Germany, 1960

The body of work of Renate Aller creates an experience which allows the viewer to enter a space and be held by a continuous landscape. In this series, she highlights how we perceive landscapes differently by creating an immersive experience which isolates landscapes from their context to enhance the familiar and the known.

  • Nadine Schlieper and Robert Pufleb
    Germany, 1976/1969

The moon has always been a source of fascination. For almost two centuries, humans have attempted to photograph and represent it. Through their collaborative work, this series acts as a statement on the perception that photography offers us of our environment. It expresses the power of photographic illusion and reveals the fine line between reality and fiction in the digital era.

  • Romain Roucoules
    France, 1991

By examining new technologies and making use of them, Romain Roucoules challenges the way we perceive the environment and how information flows. His work questions the forgetfulness of events, and how they are brought back to life by current social issues.

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