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Karambolage - The Photography and Art of Arnold Odermatt
September 2, 2011 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Arnold Odermatt is a Swiss policeman who worked in Niwalden between 1948 and 1990 and who took curiously fascinating photographs of police work and car crashes. His prints are now sold in art galleries.

He could take quite a time to set up some of his shots, to the sometime annoyance of his colleagues, apparently. Some online galleries of his work: 1 2 3 4 5
posted by carter (27 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
What an amazing body of work.

Ha.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:18 AM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


your links are reversed :) the wiki link is at body of work and the body of work is at the name (unless this was intentional for some reason?)
posted by infini at 7:22 AM on September 2, 2011


Arriving at the scene of an accident, Odermatt would take one set of photographs for the insurance or police reports, and then take another for himself. His reasons for doing so are mysterious...

Not to anyone who's read J.G. Ballard.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:24 AM on September 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fantastic -- I wonder what his police work and office evaluations were like.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:26 AM on September 2, 2011


Arnold Odermatt the Nidwalden Police [sic] in 1948. He was forced to give up his original career as a bakery and pastry chef on health grounds.

There are times when I wish Wikipedia had room to say more.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:28 AM on September 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Love it- thanks Carter.
posted by beau jackson at 7:32 AM on September 2, 2011


I don't know why, but this reminds me of Seinfeld's Chalk Outline Guy bit.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:35 AM on September 2, 2011


Is there an explanation of what happened to these auto taillights?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:56 AM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there an explanation of what happened to these auto taillights?

Given the lack of damage to the paint around them, it had to be internal heat. But, geez, you'd think the fuse would have blown long before that point.
posted by tommasz at 8:07 AM on September 2, 2011


Kirth, perhaps too close to another car which became a carbeque?
posted by maxwelton at 8:07 AM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


tommasz, I think you could heat auto paint and rubber to over 300 degrees or more without damage, but the plastic is going to melt in there somewhere.

These photos are wonderful.
posted by maxwelton at 8:08 AM on September 2, 2011


I concerned about the frequency of which Swiss drivers seem to end up in bodies of water.

These photos are indeed wonderful.
posted by PhillC at 8:12 AM on September 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's a map to show the area around Oberdorf, NW. Truth is, this is one of the most beautiful places on the planet Earth, and about an hour's train ride from where I sit :-)
posted by Goofyy at 8:25 AM on September 2, 2011


PhillC: I've lived here 3 years, and not seen any cars in the lakes. But the scenery is extremely distracting, and the water isn't salty, so your car won't corrode. LOL! That's Vierwaldst├Ąttersee there (Lake Lucerne), and the combination of mountains and water is breath taking.
posted by Goofyy at 8:31 AM on September 2, 2011


Bravo! Evocative work.
posted by growabrain at 8:44 AM on September 2, 2011


Since the photos are work product, should not his employer (the Swedish government) get the profits?

Also, where to do we draw the line at using photographs of tragic events as art for profit? I'd feel a little cheated if I got in an accident and someone else profits by taking and selling photos of it. I think it leads to a slippery slope that will soon cater to gorehounds.

How would you feel if someone snapped a pic of a dead kid in a mangled car, made it black and white and became wealthy from it?
posted by Renoroc at 8:44 AM on September 2, 2011


But he isn't making money off of photos of dead kids. They are photographs of inanimate objects (in terms of car crashes) on public roads.
posted by gofargogo at 9:27 AM on September 2, 2011


Not to anyone who's read J.G. Ballard.


Crash or Concrete Island?
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:43 AM on September 2, 2011


Oh you're right infini - I think I needed coffee ...
posted by carter at 9:50 AM on September 2, 2011


Put in a mod request maybe?
posted by infini at 9:53 AM on September 2, 2011


I think it's fine; folks are still seeing the photos.
posted by carter at 10:01 AM on September 2, 2011


These are some brilliant photographs. This guy was a natural.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:39 AM on September 2, 2011


I think it leads to a slippery slope that will soon cater to gorehounds.

He took photos on the job for 42 years, and never catered to the gorehounds.
posted by rollbiz at 10:49 AM on September 2, 2011


Isn't this just a still shot from From Russia With Love?
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 10:50 AM on September 2, 2011


Isn't this just a still shot from From Russia With Love?

I'm very interested that someone brought this up. Older James Bond movies are exactly what these photos remind me of (I was born in the 80s). I'm guessing it's the style of clothing, and even more so how the film in previous decades "caught" the colours (I'm making up terms here).
posted by beau jackson at 11:49 AM on September 2, 2011


These put me immediately in mind of the early novels of Friedrich D├╝rrenmatt - Der Richter und sein Henker, Der Verdacht, Die Panne, Das Versprechen. Great stuff, if you can find them. (NB: Sean Penn filmed Das Versprechen as The Pledge.)
posted by Prince Lazy I at 2:44 PM on September 2, 2011


How would you feel if someone snapped a pic of a dead kid in a mangled car, made it black and white and became wealthy from it?

You've just described the entirely of the newspaper and TV news programming. One police photographer-cum-artist is a long way down any shit list on that score.
posted by rodgerd at 2:55 AM on September 3, 2011


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