Karine Bauzin

Window to the world: A kind and curious perspective

Daniel Bauchervez
Karine Bauzin
Summer 2023

With her Leica in hand, photographer Karine Bauzin explores the worlds of humanity through her images that capture states of mind, situations, or even entire lifetimes unfolding in the streets or, like here, around the beach cabins.

At the age of 20, just when life and one’s desires begin to take shape, Karine Bauzin suffered from a ruptured aneurysm. “I found myself unable to communicate, but my sadness gave me a chance to discover my calling, as that’s how I fell into photography. It was an ideal medium for expressing my vulnerability through imagery, while also allowing me to explore my interest in other people,” she said.

The guiding light of Raymond Depardon
The origins of Karine’s reinvention began with a revelatory encounter with none other than the legendary Raymond Depardon. The French photographer, who is a founding member of Gamma agency (a talent hothouse in the 1970s and 1980s), introduced her to the world of photojournalism and passed on his love for “intensely simple and authentic” photography. Little by little, the excitement of covering current news gave way to a desire to explore deeper reporting, often unfolding over the span of weeks, months, and even years, in order “to fully immerse myself in my projects, explore all their angles, and develop my vision over time.” By stepping back from the moment at hand, Karine’s perspective of the world began to take shape.

Working mostly “by instinct,” Karine enjoys chasing down what she calls “the absurdities of our daily lives.” Unconventional or beautiful, it doesn’t matter. “It’s about transmitting an emotion and being thought-provoking.” It’s not about seeing, it’s about feeling. Navigating the sea of human emotions, in search of what brings us all together, Karine brings an element of social reporting into her photography. A way of seeing the world that’s further reinforced by her involvement in Regardirect, a Swiss collective that’s heavily focused on documentary photography.

“Field reporting provides special access to a wide variety of situations, many of which are inaccessible to most people. Diving into these unknown worlds only deepens my curiosity and my desire to share these stories. Living in and capturing these unique moments allows me to explore a thousand and one different lives… it’s magical.”

Time after time
Whether shot in colour or in black and white, the camera reveals the “other dimensions” of what is otherwise fleeting intimacy. Take for example Mémoires d’une pandémie, a documentary she co-directed in 2022 with Audrey Leclerc. Audrey filmed the interviews in colour while Karine shot portrait stills in black and white, “to leave a trace of and tell the story of how it affected all of our lives, in love, society, and economics.”

Among Karine’s more long-term projects is her What time is it?, which began over a decade ago and explores our relationship with time via candid photos of people telling her what time it was. Over the years, “technology rose to the forefront, with smart watches or phones being used to check the time,” explains Karine. It’s a way of tracing society’s evolution while also exploring questions about our urgencies and what we consider down time. The work is viewable in an exhibit that’s on display all summer (June 1-September 10) at the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie at the Pont de la Machine building.

Ever the humanist, Karine is also exploring two other ongoing projects: one dedicated to medical emergencies, and the other — a bit lighter yet no less profound — about the people who own beach cabins, “a kind of urban oasis,” she says. Social ties and the universality of human connections are what jump out of the images, which all revolve around “their attachment to these 2 cubic meters.” The project won the 2023 Swiss Press Photo Award in the Daily Life Category and will eventually be published as a book.