Michaël Zumstein, French-Swiss photographer and director, based in Paris (France)
After graduating from the Ecole Supérieure de Photographie de Vevey, Michaël Zumstein takes a plane off to a long initiatory journey through Africa. With more than 20 years of experience in reporting different types of groups, societies and populations, in Africa and in France, his work is in the tradition of investigative photojournalism, combining documentary realism and graphic writing to reveal interactions between individuals and show beyond the cliché.
As a keen observer of Africa for the press, for NGOs or for his personal projects, he looks at “the ambiguous relations between Africa and the West”, at conflicts and political events, but also at daily life in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Sudan, Senegal, Mali, Niger, or Central African Republic.
In 2014, he begins a large-scale project on the crisis in the Central African Republic “Of terror and tears” which will be exhibited at the Visa pour l’image Festival: “The reasons for the ordeal of the Central African Republic are complex and profound. Michaël is interested in history in its entirety. Tries to understand it. To explain it. With discretion and humility, he is one of the most attentive witnesses of the Central African crisis. Through his photos, Michaël Zumstein succeeds in restoring to us the state of this state that no longer exists.” (Cyril Bensimon, journalist).
In fact, violence is indeed present in the images of Michaël Zumstein but more evoked than shown frontally: “Ultra-violence sometimes diverts the vision of the whole and removes the narrative side of the story that is given to see” he says.
Faced with the importance, diversity and complexity of the subjects he documents, he multiplies his travels, investigations, but also the mediums to become the most accurate witness of the situations he is confronted with: in 2013, he started the project “Good Friends” which mixes photos and videos to address the difficult reconciliation that must be carried out by the different Ivorian camps; in 2019 he actively participated in Boris Lojkine’s feature film “Camille”; in 2020 he obtained the first Canon grant for the video documentary short film that will allow him to realize his project on the organization of Miss Central Africa in a country affected by outbreaks of violence.
Regularly published in the French and international press, Michaël Zumsteim is the winner of 2 Swiss Press Awards: the 3rd Swiss Press Photo Award abroad in 2014 for “Chaos in Central Africa” and in 2019 the 1st Swiss Press Photo Award abroad, for “Life after Boko Haram”.