Into the Belly of the Whale With Sjón

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Some years back, an earthquake broke the chimney off the novelist Sjón’s writing hut. He was in the bathtub when it hit — he clung to the tub’s edges as it bucked and jerked, sloshing water onto the floor. This was unpleasant but not terribly strange. Iceland is one of the most geologically volatile patches of land on Earth — it sits (like Hawaii) on top of a geothermal hot spot but also (unlike Hawaii) on top of a seam where two tectonic plates are pulling apart. The threshold between inside and outside is very thin. You never know when some mysterious force — earthquake, geyser, volcano — will come bursting out of the middle of the planet into your everyday life.

What made this earthquake unusual, in Sjón’s experience, were the whales. In the weeks following the tremors, whales started beaching themselves all over Iceland’s South Coast. The shock waves, he speculates, might have thrown off the animals’ navigation systems. One day, on a writing break, Sjón wandered down to the ocean and discovered that a whale had beached itself just a few minutes from his front door.

“What kind of whale?” I asked.

“I don’t know the species,” he said. “A medium-sized whale?”

“How big is medium? Like the size of a car?”

“No no no,” Sjón said.

“The size of a dolphin?”

“Much bigger!” he said. “The size of a bus.”

Well, the bus-size whale died on the beach. The smell, Sjón says, was incredible. Day after day, week after week, he would take writing breaks to stand by the ocean and watch the flocks of seabirds working on the carcass. The biggest birds ate first. Then the smaller birds moved in. Finally, Sjón went in, too. He entered that rotten world — bone, blubber, organs, gristle — and saw, sticking up from the mess, like an elegant carving, a whole rib, tapered and curving, roughly the length of his arm. He grabbed the bone with both hands. It was rank and slippery. He yanked and twisted until, with much difficulty, he was able to wrestle it free.

Elsewhere in the carcass, Sjón noticed a shoulder blade — a gorgeous flat half-disc that looked like the head of an ancient ax. With a little more work, he managed to extract that too. By the time Sjón made it back to his writing hut, he was covered in death-slime. He had to strip off his clothes before he went inside. He left the whale bones out in the garden. It took the harshness of Iceland three full years to scrub them clean.

Sjón was telling me this story in the little cottage where he writes his books: an old fisherman’s house plated with black corrugated steel. (Icelandic houses tend to wear armor to survive the winters.) In person, Sjón is a perfect avatar of the International Man of Letters: thick black glasses, tweed hat, faint graying goatee. His manner is gentle, thoughtful and unfailingly polite. He speaks fluent English with a strong Icelandic accent. That afternoon, he appeared to be wearing, over his button-up shirt, two sweaters — a cardigan over another cardigan. Trying to imagine this man wrestling bones out of a whale carcass was absurd.

But Sjón had proof. He pointed to the wall behind us. “This is the rib,” he said.

It hung there, like the back end of a set of parentheses.

He pointed to the opposite wall. “And this is the shoulder.”

There it was, hovering like a spaceship over the bookshelf.

“So if you’re here” — now Sjón gestured to the table itself — “then you’re in the belly of the whale. So I sit here and write.”

He smiled, in a way that his books sometimes seem to smile — a way that suggests something funny might have happened, but also possibly not, and anyway let’s move on to whatever story is coming next.

The belly of the whale, in traditional storytelling, is a place of divine transformation, a cave filled with dark magic. This makes it the perfect place for Sjón to do his writing. His wide-ranging work — nine novels, two films, numerous poetry collections, dozens of song lyrics for his close friend Björk — carries a whiff of the unreal. The novels often feature bizarre events, usually involving sudden transformations: One fox becomes four foxes, a stamp collector turns into a werewolf, a young man morphs into a black butterfly. Like Iceland itself, Sjón’s books are simultaneously tiny and huge, weird and normal, ancient and modern. Reading them feels like listening to that story of the beached whale: a wild invention that is actually a straight-faced confession. His books dance — with light, quick steps, never breaking eye contact — all over the line between the mythic and the mundane.

Sjón’s fiction has long been celebrated in Europe. The books started appearing in English in 2011, and soon they were drawing high-profile raves. “Every now and then a writer changes the whole map of literature inside my head,” A.S. Byatt wrote in The New York Review of Books. Although Sjón has not quite become an international literary Nordic megabrand, à la Karl Ove Knausgaard or Stieg Larsson, he has amassed a deep and passionate following, especially among other novelists.

“I am amazed he’s not better known than he is,” Hari Kunzru told me. “I thought he was going to turn into something like the Bolaño cult.” Kunzru said that he admires both Sjón’s erudition — his novels cover such diverse subjects as whaling, alchemy and the history of cinema — and the way he folds that deep knowledge into swift, effortless stories.

David Mitchell, another fan, told me via email that he admires Sjón for his “ticklish, full-moon sense of humor” and the poetic simplicity of his style: “spaciousness and absence” that make him think of Taoism. What Sjón leaves out of his work, Mitchell wrote, is as powerful as what he puts in. “His fiction never seems to break into a sweat, yet it takes you a long, long way.”

The type of wild transformation Sjón loves to write about — all these creatures unpredictably changing states — also applies to his own work. From book to book, he radically varies his style, setting and subject matter. He can write a slim fable about a 19th-century fox hunt (“The Blue Fox”) or a rolling monologue by a 17th-century alchemist (“From the Mouth of the Whale”) or a multigenre epic about the Holocaust, nuclear explosions and DNA (“CoDex 1962”). Sjón’s new novel, “Red Milk,” is a clinically realistic portrait of a young neo-Nazi. And yet, despite its range, the writing is always recognizably Sjón.

When talking about his work, Sjón rejects the word “fantastic.” Fantastic, he says, implies unreality. Even the most improbable events in his books, he argues, are not unreal — they grow from the soil of Icelandic history, and they are real for his characters, even if they happen only in their minds, as misperceptions or hallucinations. Instead, Sjón prefers the word “marvelous.” His work, and his country, are full of marvels: strange things that emerge and flow, all the time, over the bedrock of reality. The marvelous is all around us, he insists. We just need the vision to see it.

Sjón’s full name is Sigurjón Birgir Sigurdsson — a cascade of soft G’s and rolling R’s that sounds, when he says it, like a secret liquid song, sung deep in his throat, to a shy baby horse. He was born in 1962, into a Reykjavík that was, in many ways, still a village: small, dull, remote, conservative, homogeneous. Iceland felt like the edge of the world, and Sjón grew up on the edge of that edge. He was the only child of a single mother, and they moved, when he was 10, into a freshly poured neighborhood on the outskirts of the city called Breidholt. (By the miniature standards of Reykjavík, outskirts means about a 10-minute drive from downtown.) Breidholt was planned housing: a big complex of Brutalist concrete apartment blocks standing alone in a muddy wasteland. Every time it rained, the parking lot turned into a brown lake. And yet that wasteland was surrounded by ancient Icelandic beauty: moors, trees, birds, a river full of leaping salmon. Sjón often thinks about this juxtaposition: those two vastly different worlds, which he toggled between at will. The fluidity of the landscape, he says, helped create a similar fluidity in his imagination.

As a boy, Sjón was precocious, hungry for world culture. He remembers watching “Mary Poppins” at age 4 and being shocked by an uncanny moment at the end when her umbrella handle, shaped like a parrot, suddenly opens its beak and speaks. (“I still haven’t recovered,” he says.) As a teenager, Sjón fell in love with David Bowie, and for years he studied Bowie’s interviews like syllabuses, tracking down all the artists he mentioned, educating himself about international books and music. Finally, he discovered Surrealism. It felt exactly right: discordant realities stacked on top of each other without explanation or transition or apology. Sjón became obsessed — a Surrealist evangelist. This is when he adopted the pen name Sjón. It was a perfect bit of literary branding: his given name, Sigurjón, with the middle extracted. In Icelandic, sjón means “vision.”

Iceland, in the 1970s, was a strange place to be a teenager, especially one with artistic ambitions. Reykjavík, the country’s only real city, had two coffee shops and two hotels. Sjón told me that the most exciting event, for young people, was a ritual known as “Hallaerisplanid” — a word that translates, roughly, as “Hardship Square” or, more colorfully, “the Cringe Zone.” Every weekend, huge masses of teenagers would mob the city’s shabby little central plaza, then walk around for hours in loud, rowdy packs, looping over and over through the narrow downtown streets. Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, on a visit to Reykjavík, watched these thousands of kids from their hotel window with fascination. It would have been a perfectly existentialist spectacle — restless hordes, in the face of a vast nothingness, creating meaning by fiat, through an absurd, defiant, repetitive, arbitrary ritual.

For Sjón, the bleakness of Reykjavík was both impossible and ideal. He didn’t have much help, but he was free to become whatever he wanted. So he did. At 16, he self-published his first book of poetry, then sold it to captive audiences on the bus. From his Brutalist apartment building, he wrote grandiose letters to Surrealists all over the world, declaring a new Icelandic front of the movement. His mailbox filled with responses from Japan, Portugal, Brazil, France. Eventually, Sjón got himself invited to visit old Surrealists in Europe. On a stay with André Breton’s widow, in France, he swam in a river and had a visionary experience with a dragonfly: It sat on his shoulder, vibrating its wings, then took off — and in that moment he felt he had been baptized into a new existence.

Back in Reykjavík, Sjón helped found a Surrealist group called Medúsa, into which he recruited other ambitious teenagers. One of these recruits was a girl from his neighborhood — a singer who would go on to become, by the end of the 20th century, probably the most famous Icelander in the world. Björk was a musical prodigy; she got her first record deal at age 11, after a song she performed for a school recital was broadcast on Iceland’s only radio station. She met Sjón when she was 17, when he came into the French hot-chocolate shop where she worked downtown. Björk told me in an email that she was, at the time, a “super introvert.” She and Sjón formed a loud, stunty two-person band called Rocka Rocka Drum — “a liberating alter ego thing” for each of them, she remembers.

The members of Medúsa made noise all over Reykjavík. They argued about literature and put on art shows in a garage and flung themselves into bohemian high jinks. One time, all the Surrealists got drunk on absinthe and proceeded to walk around Reykjavík entirely on the roofs of parked cars — a night that ended at a popular club, where Sjón bit a bouncer on the thigh, then recited André Breton’s “Manifesto of Surrealism” while lying face down in a police car. The Surrealists considered it a great victory when they were denounced, in newspapers, by Iceland’s conservative literary establishment. In one of the great thrills of his life, Sjón once heard himself attacked personally, on the radio, while he was riding the bus. Björk found all of this exhilarating. “It was,” she told me, “like being absorbed into a gorgeous D.I.Y. organic university: extreme fertility!”

This wild artistic ferment yielded not only Sjón’s literary career but also the Sugarcubes — the alternative-rock group, fronted by Björk, that became Iceland’s first international breakout success. Although Sjón was not an official member, he sometimes joined the group on tour, dancing wildly onstage under the name Johnny Triumph. (This was another play on his name: Sigurjón can be translated as “Victory John.”) In the 1990s, when Björk began her solo career, she turned to Sjón for help writing lyrics. And so his words, set to her music, began to circle the world. “I’m a fountain of blood in the shape of a girl,” Björk sings at the beginning of her 1997 song “Bachelorette” — an image that would work equally well in one of Sjón’s novels. In 2001, Björk and Sjón were nominated for an Oscar for a song they wrote for the Lars von Trier film “Dancer in the Dark.” (Björk showed up to the ceremony wearing her famous swan dress.) In 2004, Björk performed their song “Oceania” at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Athens.

Sjón (left) performing as Johnny Triumph with the Sugarcubes in November 1987.Credit…Sigurdur Mar Halldórsson/Reykjavík Museum of Photography

Sjón’s lyrics, Björk told me, have a poetic quality that is very different from her own. Certain lines, she said, feel incredible in her mouth, even after decades of performing them. Many of his sentences, as she put it, “feel like a whole universe every time I say them.”

Today Sjón lives in central Reykjavík, just a couple of minutes away from Björk, in a leafy neighborhood famous for its cats. (Sjón has a cat named Reverend Markus — please trust me that I do not have nearly the space or time to tell you its full story here.) At 59, he lives a quiet life with his wife, an opera singer named Ásgerdur. They have two grown children, a photographer and a producer of Icelandic rap.

One afternoon, I met Sjón near his house. A big orange cat happened to be sprawling in the middle of the sidewalk. Sjón stopped to pet it, and as he did so, he poured out a soft stream of affectionate Icelandic — vowels stretching and plunging and leaping, R’s rolling like creekwater over stones. The cat flopped onto its back, meowing. I listened, fascinated, understanding nothing.

The Icelandic language, in which Sjón writes, is notoriously difficult. It is spoken by just over 350,000 people — something like the population of Anaheim, Calif. (French, by comparison, is spoken fluently by around 300 million, English by 1.35 billion.) The language has long been a point of pride for Icelanders — a kind of sacred national heritage site that lives in their mouths. In many ways, the language is the culture. Modern Icelandic is often spoken of as a linguistic time capsule — a cryogenically frozen version of the language the first settlers of Iceland spoke 1,200 years ago, when they landed on this island populated by only birds and arctic foxes. Without too much trouble, Icelanders can still read the great sagas written 800 years ago. Much energy and political capital has gone into freezing the language in place, trying to keep it pure: rejecting loan words, mandating public signage, upholding traditional naming conventions. I tried, before my trip, to teach myself Icelandic using an app on my phone. But I gave up almost immediately.

Sjón’s longtime English translator, Victoria Cribb, told me that Icelandic is difficult for many reasons. Its words combine easily, playfully, to become new words; its nouns shift form depending on their position in a sentence. “It means you can get every single word slightly wrong,” Cribb told me. “The chances for social embarrassment are enormous.”

Sjón, however, tends to cheerfully play all of this down. Throughout our two days together, he insisted, again and again, that his native language was not so special. Like much about Iceland, he says, the uniqueness of Icelandic has been fetishized, exaggerated.

We sat outside at a small cafe. Sjón pointed across the street to a bus stop, one side of which was covered by an ad for Honey Nut Cheerios. I recognized the imagery — cartoon bee, wooden dipper drenched in honey — but the text was completely alien. Letters, hatched with odd lines, clustered together into incomprehensible shapes.

Sjón read the ad copy aloud: “Hafdu pad gott alla vikuna!” “Hafdu,” he said. “ ‘Have.’ Pad — OK, ‘that,’ you know.” He went on like this, word by word, with the patience of a kindergarten teacher, until he had decoded the whole message for me. “Have that good all week.” The Honey Nut Cheerios ad, Sjón said, may as well have been written in English. “You should say to your friends in the States, ‘Go to Iceland — you speak the language anyway,’” he said.

Over the course of our time together, Sjón would do this many times. He translated the Icelandic on road signs and billboards and menus and credit-card machines — always pointing out that much of what struck me as strange was, in fact, secretly familiar.

This, I came to understand, is typical Sjón. He insists, always, on interconnections, cross-pollinations, porous borders between overlapping worlds. He is an enthusiastic mixer. The impulse, for him, goes far beyond language. It applies to every aspect of human culture: art, food, dance, film, music, literary genres.

And even beyond all that, it is a moral position, a deliberate challenge to one of the great historical pillars of Icelandic identity: the notion that Iceland is a pure nation — culturally, ecologically, linguistically, genetically.

Or, as Sjón refers to it, “this purity nonsense.”

“It’s quite ingrained in Icelandic culture,” he told me. As a child, Sjon says, he was taught to revere Iceland’s unique and glorious history, its people’s inherent goodness, the ancient sanctity of its language and the special native genius of the sagas — the 13th-century texts that helped preserve Scandinavian lore (including Norse mythology) that otherwise would have been lost forever.

Most of this, Sjón says, was a historical fantasy — at best an exaggeration. “So much of what is good in this society is things that were brought here from abroad,” he told me. Iceland, from its inception, was multicultural. It was founded, 1,200 years ago, by a wave of immigrant Scandinavian farmers, along with people from Ireland and the British islands. As skilled sea people, early Icelanders worked hard to maintain contact with the rest of the world. Culture, inevitably, flowed both ways.

“Right from the beginning, when the Icelanders start telling stories and writing stories, they are always about this contact with the continent and with world history,” Sjón says. “They’re always connecting themselves with the Norwegian kings, with events taking place in Ireland, with someone going all the way down to Istanbul, or Constantinople, as it was called then — or Mikligardur, as it was called in Icelandic. They had names for all these places, because they had visited them. Moorish Spain. The Mediterranean. They’re everywhere. So when they tell stories, their stories always leave this place and go out into the big world. And they do not only go out into the big physical world, they connect with the big cosmological world of the myths.”

The idea of Icelandic purity, Sjón says, is a relatively modern invention: It dates back only about 200 years, to a group of German intellectuals who, obsessed with racial origins, fixated on a category of whiteness that stretched up to Scandinavia. Iceland, in its supposed isolation, was cast as a direct link to that deep ancestral history. (Later, for obvious reasons, the Nazis would be crazy about Iceland.) Although this was largely a pseudoscientific fantasy, it was flattering to Icelanders. Purity, after all, is an excellent brand: It can sell everything from bottled water to dog food to fish oil to nation-states. The purity myth helped to infuse this poor, beleaguered, neglected island — a tiny nation harassed by volcanoes and famines, dominated by its powerful Scandinavian neighbors — with a sense of national pride. In the late 19th century, Icelandic nationalists wielded the purity myth as a weapon against Denmark in the fight for independence. (Iceland officially became a republic, finally, in 1944.)

The Iceland Sjón grew up in, he says, was stiflingly bigoted. In the middle of the 20th century, when the United States established a permanent military base near Reykjavík, Iceland allowed it only on the condition that no Black troops would be stationed there. (This ban was not lifted until the 1960s.) During his childhood, Sjón remembers, there were exactly two Black children in the city, and everyone knew who they were. A famous gay musician — the first Icelandic celebrity to come out of the closet — was pelted with snowballs and eventually driven from the country.

Things are better now, Sjón says, but not entirely. Iceland’s immigration and citizenship laws remain extremely strict, and resistance to outsiders can be strong. Sjón gets passionate when he talks about this. His gentle demeanor swells with outrage. It angers him on many levels at once.

Kunzru told me that he can still feel, sometimes, the younger version of Sjón lurking — the anarchist surrealist bohemian rebel. “The Sjón we meet now is this urbane gentleman,” he said. “He’s got this tweedy Edwardian thing going on. But he’s still there underneath. There’s a punk.”

Sjón’s books — sometimes explicitly, sometimes with playful indirection — are always fighting off the forces of constriction, narrowness, Icelandic exceptionalism. They tend to center outcasts and exiles, characters who don’t fit into dominant norms and are punished accordingly. “Moonstone” tells the story of a queer, dyslexic teenage boy in 1918 Reykjavík. “From the Mouth of the Whale” channels the wild mind of a blasphemous 16th-century scholar sent off to a freezing rock in the middle of the North Atlantic.

“One of the things I appreciate about him is that, along with the playfulness, and the lightness of touch, there is a deep moral seriousness,” Cribb told me. “A great anger. It’s decently hidden, but it’s very much there: a moral anger.”

When Sjón was a teenager, he learned a shameful family secret. His mother, he writes, “grew up knowing only that her father had been in the news when she was 7 years old because of something so bad that no one in her small fishing village would tell her what it was.” It turned out to be this: During World War II, Sjón’s grandfather lived in Germany, where he was trained as a Nazi spy; he came back to Iceland on a U-boat in 1944 and was arrested for treason. He served a year in prison. Sjón’s uncles, too, were card-carrying members of the Nazi Party.

Although Sjón was not close to any of these relatives, he has grappled with that legacy throughout his career. The narrator of his novel “The Whispering Muse,” for instance, is in part a satire of his grandfather: a tedious man who opines, endlessly, about how the Nordic race’s fish-based diet has made it superior to the rest of the world. Sjón shows us that bigotry is, in addition to all its other faults, a crime against storytelling. The narrator is a gasbag, and no one has any interest in his speeches: “I was becoming used to the crew members’ tendency to behave as if everything I said was incomprehensible, to remain silent for just as long as I was speaking, then carry on from where they had left off, treating me like some guano-covered rock that one must steer a course around.”

Unlike ancient myths or actual history, nationalist fantasies tend to be flat and static and dull. This is why fascist movements, Sjón says, always have a shelf life. Cultural richness will not be constrained.

“I think at the core of the human being, there is an enjoyment of complexity,” he told me. “I think we enjoy things being complex and marvelous. Wherever you go in human culture, at whatever point in history, you can see that culture means complexity.”

Sjón’s new novel, “Red Milk,” is his most direct engagement with Nazism. It started when he discovered that a neo-Nazi cell thrived in Reykjavík around the time of his birth. One member, in particular, caught his attention: a young organizer who died of cancer.

This was, for Sjón, an irresistible storytelling challenge. “Red Milk” imagines this mysterious neo-Nazi as an ordinary boy named Gunnar Kampen. It follows him from his first memory (a family car trip that buzzes, like all human experiences, with color and life) to his radicalization (“Only white people let the light into themselves,” a woman tells him, holding his hand up to a lamp) to his lonely death on a train. The novel isn’t a satire or a screed. Its style is clinical, provocatively spare — it resists, almost completely, the hallmarks of Sjón’s previous work: the marvelous, the bizarre, the mystical.

Too often, Sjón says, we think about fascism and Nazism as extraordinary. In fact, they are the most ordinary things in the world. “Red Milk” captures the pathetic human reality of a boy who, by attaching himself to a poisonous ideology, hopes to make his own small life feel important. (He calls his group the Sovereign Power Movement and names his newsletter, in good Icelandic style, after Thor’s hammer.) The boy’s cancer and his Nazism advance in tandem. Sjón makes us watch, pitilessly, as the richness of a human life gets reduced and reduced and reduced until it finally disappears. As he writes in an afterword: “We must start with what we have in common with such people. Not that I think a proper conversation can ever be had with someone whose ultimate goal is to get rid of you for good. But we can at least show them that we see them for what they are, that we know they come from childhoods fundamentally similar to our own … that a neo-Nazi is no more special than that.”

One of the strangest things about Sjón’s fiction is its power of prediction. He seems to be able to summon things, magnetically, across the threshold between reality and imagination. The summer that the earthquake hit, when that whale washed up outside his door, Sjón was about to finish a novel that ends with its narrator in the belly of a whale. Not long after the publication of “Red Milk,” neo-Nazis demonstrated in downtown Reykjavík for the first time in decades. “Moonstone,” maybe my favorite novel, is set in Reykjavík in 1918, during the unlikely confluence of a global pandemic and a volcanic eruption — a situation that recurred, to Sjón’s disbelief, in 2021.

In the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, a volcano called Fagradalsfjall unexpectedly erupted — the first eruption in that region in 800 years. It launched spectacular spurts of lava more than 1,000 feet high. People in Sjón’s neighborhood lined up, at night, to watch it like a fireworks show.

“It was crazy,” Sjón says. “I thought, OK, now I’m living in the times I described in my novel. For that to happen to an ordinary novelist, not someone who’s working in science fiction — it’s amazing. The novel has completely changed in nature.”

Before I left Iceland, I drove over to see the volcano. It was erupting, conveniently, right near the airport. As I walked the hiking trail, alongside the rest of the tourists, I prepared myself to witness, in real life, something sublime — a level of pure natural power I had only ever imagined or watched on screens. My spirit was trembling with a sort of Viking sublime, a Wagner aria of the soul.

After about 20 minutes, the path turned — and I stopped, shocked. What I saw was nothing like what I had been expecting. The volcano was no longer visibly erupting. This was the aftermath. The whole valley was filled with, absolutely choking on, a huge black mass of dried lava: a hardened flood. It was brutal and vast and blunt and ugly — majestic, somehow, in its ugliness. It filled the valley the way a tongue fills a mouth. The black rock still steamed in spots, and everything smelled like sulfur, and if you looked in certain crannies you could see an orange glow that made me think of charcoal in a barbecue. It was, in other words, an absolute mess — the biggest mess I have ever seen in my life. There was something slightly embarrassing about it. I had never thought of a volcano like this before. It felt like walking into a ballroom the morning after a decadent party.

Some of the tourists were audibly disappointed. They couldn’t believe their bad luck. As a Google review would put it: “No red-hot and flowing lava = not 5 stars.”

As I stood there, I couldn’t help thinking of Sjón’s distinction between the fantastic and the marvelous. This volcano was that distinction made real. It was not anything like the fantasy of a volcano we all imagined when we flew to Iceland. It was weirder, dirtier, more complicated. It was a marvel. I put my ear down to the black stone. It was making noise: a hiss, a crackle. Somewhere deep, a force began to click.

Sam Anderson is a staff writer for the magazine. His last feature was about the artist Laurie Anderson. Matthieu Gafsou is a Swiss photographer based in Lausanne. In September 2022, he will have a midcareer retrospective at the Pully Museum of Art in the suburbs of Lausanne, along with an exhibition of new work, titled “Vivants.”

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