The machines were sold, as were the cows. The barn is empty, sadly empty, we can clearly feel in the eyes of Hans and Ruth Wüthrich this mixture of melancholy and resignation. After thirty years of operating the farm inherited from Ruth’s parents in Chiètres, in the north of the canton of Friborg, in its German-speaking part, the couple had to resolve to cease their activities. The agrarian reform will have got the better of their small exploitation. It was in the spring of 2000. From their last year of work, there remains a strong testimony, that of their son Tomas, photographer. The artist’s book he is publishing today, accompanied by an exhibition at the Musée gruérien in Bulle, reads like a photo novel. He chronologically traces the disappearance of this Farm # 4233, exploitation number which is also the title of his series, produced in silver and black and white, as if to better underline its twilight dimension.
Tomas Wüthrich was studying at MAZ, the Swiss School of Journalists in Lucerne, when his parents informed him in 1999 of their decision to give up their profession as farmers. “It was the first time that they offered a course in photojournalism”, explains the one who had previously completed an apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker, before working in the social sector. “I had just started this personal project when I signed up for MAZ. On the one hand I was learning the profession of a photographer, on the other I was accompanying my parents. It was very intense. ”