Bienne (extra)ordinaire

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Archives municipales de Bienne, Fonds de la Police municipale

From the 1950s to the 1970s, the old city police department of Biel/Bienne had a “photo beat,” to which just one officer was attached. Accompanied by their Mamiya camera, the photographers mainly recorded traffic violations, police interventions, major restoration and demolition activities, as well as emergencies.

In collaboration with the municipal archives of Biel/Bienne, the Festival of Photography is presenting a selection of images from the collection of the city police department that depict the daily life of Biel/Bienne: the ordinary, the extraordinary, sometimes the illegal. From the several hundred negatives that are in the collection, forty photos have been selected for their aesthetic value, all the more pronounced for being in black and white. This is a rare look at historical records that are being displayed publicly for the first time. With occasional moments of humour, they cast a light on the present by throwing into relief the changes in lifestyle and in the shape of the city of Biel/Bienne. For some, they might also bring back old memories…