Corridors Of Power: Convention halls in the Luca Zainer’s project

Inspired by the majesty of administration buildings, Luca Zainer showed us places, where the most important decisions are being made

Luca Zainer
48 years oldLuca Zainer,
Lives and works in Zurich, Switzerland. Does the landscape, documentary and portrait photography. Showcased his work in New York, Luxembourg, Vienna and Paris. Was honored with the Prix de la Photographie Paris and Open Show Switzerland. Works with the AnzenbergerGallery.
Zainer’s PowerBook can be purchased on the
AnzenbergerGallery Bookstore’s website.

I came up with the initial idea for the project in 2009 while in Paris visiting the Headquarters of the French Communist Party. I was fascinated by the place, its architecture and aesthetics — the structure where major political issues had been discussed some 20-30 years ago. I decided to look for more places of equal energy level. After visiting the International UN Headquarters in New York I gained greater insight into the project: I wanted to shoot places of a powerful scale, where the vital decisions are being made. Each organization has its own “decisions”: in FIFA, for example, they might call a meeting to discuss a brand of water referees should drink during soccer games.

Before visiting each of chosen locations I do some research on it in various publication materials and browse internet for pictures – typically only finding a few of the exterior ones. Next step is sending an e-mail request describing myself and my work, with attached photos and CV. In France, visiting places on my list is not a problem, but in the case with the UN in New York I ran into some stumbling blocks. As a rule, booking a visit needs to be made three weeks in advance – however I did call three days in advance before and to my surprise was granted permission to spend two days there.

I don’t always get this lucky: it took me more than four years to get inside the FIFA building as my request had been rejected three times in a row. The guy who was working there introduced me to the PR and Communication office stuff and they allowed me to come in and take some pictures.

I am planning to visit the Pope and Vatican in the nearest future – I have already pinpointed several beautiful places hardly anyone knows about. I spent some time in Italy in the past while shooting the mafia. I try to travel as much as I can.

“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/10_UNO_ROOM_XIX_Genf_a_1553.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 1”,
“text”: “UN Room XIX. Geneva, 2013.”
“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/15_FIFA_I_Exekutive-komitee_1792.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 2”,
“text”: “FIFA, Executive Committee. Zurich, 2013. ”
“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/08_Bundeshaus_Nationalratssaa_Berna_1950.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 3”,
“text”: “National Assembly, Federal Parliament Building. Bern, 2013.”
“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/04_CGT_Paris_I_a_6028.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 4”,
“text”: “General Labour Confederation. Paris, 2010.”
“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/06_PCF_Paris_new_2977.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 5”,
“text”: “French Communist Party. Paris, 2010.”
“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/03_UNO_Trusteeship_Council_NYC1.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 6”,
“text”: “UN Trusteeship Council. New York, 2008.”


I started my another project — Space And Energy — in 2010. Energy is something I have always been fascinated about. Everyone knows what the exterior of a nuclear power plant looks like. The idea was to capture places, where the energy is being produced and stored, in a surprising and beautiful way. Publishing a book was one of the goals of the project I had.

Idea is a vital element in any photobook: you have to know what to put in the book, why you want to produce it and for whom. It is important to have a skilled graphic designer and a narrator (if you are not a writer) — you need to have a good story behind the photographs. For a photographer, publishing a photobook is one of the biggest accomplishments.

You have to sell at least 2,500 copies of a book in order to make decent money — it’s not an easy task. The total cost of the Power Book was € 55,000 and I earned nothing. The retail price was € 45 — approximately half of it went to the retailer and the other € 25 — to the publisher. You need to raise some additional funding from sponsors and invest into advertising if you want to make profit.

“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/01_UNO_Security_Council_NYC1.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 7”,
“text”: “UN Security Council. New York, 2008.”
“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/16_Consiglio_Regione_Lombardia_5194.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 8”,
“text”: “Regional Council of Lombardy. Milan, 2013. ”
“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/14_FIFA_II_Andachtsraum_a_7009.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 9”,
“text”: “FIFA, Prayer Room. Zurich, 2013.”
“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/12_UNO_Room_XXIV_Genf_a_5793.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 10”,
“text”: “UN Room XXIV. Geneva, 2013.”
“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/05_UNO_General_Assembly_NYC_5980.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 11”,
“text”: “UN General Assembly. New York, 2008.”
“img”: “/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/LucaZanierAusstellung_a_9001.jpg”,
“alt”: “Luca Zainer 12”,
“text”: “Luca Zainer’s exhibition in the AnzenbergerGallery.”

Photographer’s Job

Good photography is based on good architecture and a good story. I normally visit a place twice – first with a basic Nikon camera and later, when I know exactly what to shoot, with more sophisticated equipment. I shot the WTO building in Geneva once — it is an extremely powerful organization, but the building itself is mediocre. That is why I decided not to include it in my project. I don’t particularly care about the technical implementation – it doesn’t make for a good picture. The idea and the concept is what makes a difference.

Being a photographer is one of the most complicated jobs in the world. You have to be hardworking and patient — sometimes it is difficult to get employed. You have to attempt your own projects. There are plenty of photographers out there — but only those with the most original ideas succeed.

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