Bredzon Forever


Since landing in Fribourg, Jean-Luc Cramatte has kept an eye on the « bredzon »— the short- and puffed-sleeved jacket traditionally worn by Gruyère’s « armaillis » (cattle famers), and the symbol of the canton’s French-speaking part. He noticed that this clothing piece seemed to be fading from view, both as professional attire and as part of the tourist iconography. On the other hand, its reappropriation by certain urban alternative circles became manifest, inspiring him to question what the bredzon has come to mean today. His exploration of this issue led to a « symptomatic » project on the fear of losing our regional identity in the face of ever-growing globalization.


Pairing up with a communication agency, Cramatte decided to highlight this clothing piece, which, although well-known, had never been the subject of study. He set himself up in a shopping mall for three days, and proceeded to do portraits of some 350 anonymous sitters willing to don the bredzon. These included locals, immigrants and tourists from the world over; most had never before worn such a piece. This major staging produced a series of frontal portraits against a neutral background; the generally expressionless faces are akin to identity cards. As ever, Cramatte strove to achieve maximum objectivity. Although the insertion of questions posed to the participants by students in ethnology add a scientific dimension to the project, these photographs, arranged into a strict inventory, constitute above all a phantasmagoria.