Conquistador is a photographic project built on the very dense archive of the life of Louis de Boccard (1866-1956), a Swiss man of the lower nobility of Fribourg, exiled in Argentina at the end of the 1880s and deceased in Paraguay in 1956. Nicolas Savary, a Lausanne photographer, fortuitously came into possession of this archive, first in Switzerland and then in Paraguay, as part of a research project during an artistic residency in South America in 2014. The archive discovered and organized within the framework of this project is extremely rich and, above all, unprecedented. It consists of photo albums, a correspondence, historical documents, press articles and diaries.
The photographs are the work, on the one hand, of Louis de Boccard himself, but also of other photographers living in Argentina at the same time, like Samuel Rimathé. However, Savary does not propose a historical project but, instead, a contemporary approach with reference to an archive. Examination of the documents reveals that certain themes are linked to contemporary issues, for example, ecology and the tourist industry, questions of urban development, or the situation of indigenous peoples.
Co-produced by the Musée de l’Elysée and the Musée Gruérien in Bulle, the exhibition features contemporary photographs taken by the artist in 2014 and 2015 in Argentina, Switzerland and Paraguay. It also includes reprints and facsimiles of archive images and/or certain original documents and ethnographic and heritage objects. The scenography takes the form of a narrative collage, with different types of images mounted in specific formats (frames, laminations, wallpapers, projections, display cases, etc.).