Bally Artist 2020

Salvatore Vitale

Bally Artist 2020

The Bally Foundation commends Salvatore Vitale’s investigative analysis of the development and complexity of Switzerland’s power structure and technology, and his use of photography, graphics, diagrams and editorial content to analyze intrinsically abstract topics and make them visible, often highlighting the interaction between people and their environment.

Salvatore Vitale was born in Palermo, Italy in 1986. He received his Master in Fine Arts from Zürcher Hochschule der Künste (ZHdK), Zürich. The Swiss-based visual artist is co-founder and editor of YET, an international photography magazine. His works are part of several public collections and have been exhibited internationally in Switzerland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, United States, Russia, India, China and Japan. Vitale is a lecturer at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) where he leads the Transmedia Storytelling program. He animates workshops throughout the world and is a visiting lecturer at several renowned academies. He has received multiple awards and recognitions, from which, Foam Talent and Swiss Design Award in 2018. He received the Bally Artist Award in 2020.

Salvatore Vitale focuses on exploring the complexity and power structures of modern societies. In particular, he explores the relationships between the social context, communication strategies and the implications of technological mediation processes, applying an extensive documentary analysis and different forms of expression, including photography, installation, video and sound. Starting from the deep conviction that photography can affect possible changes in people’s thinking and acting, he disseminates and completes this approach with publications and public debates.

"How to Secure a Country"
Swiss Border, Brusino Arsizio, Switzerland, 2016
Archival pigment print – 2/7
120 x 90 cm
MASI Lugano, Switzerland and other venues worldwide
The Bally Foundation Permanent Collection, Switzerland

"How to Secure a Country" was Salvatore Vitale’s prize-winning response to The Bally Foundation’s 2020 theme of "Sloganism and Sloganisms." Vitale’s entry consists of two hundred and nine photographs that reflect on the concept of security of Switzerland, one of the most heavily armed countries in the world, which has pervaded the collective imagination to the extent of becoming a national hallmark, and on cross-border dynamics, a recurring political theme.

The artist’s long-term investigation revolves around the composite structure of the Swiss national security system, interactive entities from the army to the meteorology centres and robotics laboratories. Using photographs and graphic material, the artist shows various facets of this reality, highlighting the formal elements of administrative and automated processes.
His narrative offers an unexpected and surprising version of the subject matter, broadening the understanding and activating the consciousness of the viewer.

A selection of photographic images from the "How to Secure a Country" project was the subject of an exhibition, “Displaying Security” dedicated to Salvatore Vitale at Museo d’arte della Svizzera italiana (MASI) in 2021 and set up with the support of The Bally Foundation. The exhibition highlighted aspects of the highly articulated and difficult to observe Swiss security apparatus, the subject explored by the artist.