Simone Kappeler – America 1981

Simone Kappeler – America 1981

Photographic experiment and personal liberation: Simone Kappeler's road trip across America



Title Information

Photographs by Simone Kappeler. With a text by Peter Pfrunder. Edited by Jürg Trösch and Markus Bosshard

1st edition

, 2020

Text English and German


256 pages, 160 color and 77 b/w illustrations

24 x 34 cm

ISBN 978-3-85881-679-5

In cooperation with Codax Publisher, Zurich


In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Zurich’s youth was rebellious. An entire generation of students was in search for the “new”. In 1981, photographic artist Simone Kappeler left her native Switzerland, setting off on a road trip across America. She took with her a Hasselblad, a 35 mm camera, as well as a Polaroid. Over the course of the journey, she would add a multitude of cheap cameras to this collection that enabled snapshot-like images—taken unselfconsciously whenever a motif sprang at her. The images reflect a direct and unrestrained manner, they tell of immediate sensual experience and the longing for freedom and independence.

Thirty-five years later, Kappeler has revisited the vast collection that resulted of her undertaking. The selection of some 230 images she has now made for and their composition in this new book reveal a consistent artistic perspective and a signature style. And even today, her 1981 view of America has lost none of its magic.


Named on the Longlist of the German Photo Book Prize 20/21.


Designed by Markus Bosshard


Simone Kappeler, born 1952, read German and French literature and art history at University of Zurich before studying photography at Zurich’s School of Design (now Zurich University of the Arts), from where she graduated in 1979. She lives and works as a freelance photographic artist in Zurich.


Peter Pfrunder is director of Swiss Foundation for Photography in Winterthur, Switzerland.

Authors & Editors

"It is of course a super story that the material had to be stored for over 35 years until Kappeler remembered it and Scheidegger & Spiess turned it into a book that can confidently be counted among the most beautiful of this summer". Photoklassik


"This book teaches us how exciting photo books work. Here, one thing is clear: absolute recommendation to buy!" Marc Peschke, Photonews


"I wouldn’t call it nostalgia, this affection for the uneventful past. It’s not about pining for traditional values or the phony simplicity of limited options. On the contrary, in those less demanding times, things open up. History loosens its grip. Imagination roams. Isn’t that a kind of freedom? Look at Kappeler’s spirited pictures and decide." Terence Monmaney, Smithsonian Magazine


"A beautifully printed piece of time travel." Ralf Groschwitz, Vine Voice Amazon


"A book that seems surprisingly fresh and tells of the great journey of the young woman who, together with a friend, spends three months in a Ford Gran Torino Station Wagon in the USA." Marc Peschke, PhotoKlassik


"This book is a remarkable document of artistic self-discovery and attitude in photography." Andreas Gebhardt, Kasseler Fotobuchblog


"The selection of pictures for this book and the composition of the 250 reproduced pictures reveal a consistent attitude and artistic signature despite the joy of experimentation. Kappeler's view of America from 1981 has lost none of its freshness to this day." Regina Plaar, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie e.V.


"The fact that only now, almost forty years later, the public does take part in Simone Kappeler's visual experiences, neither diminishes the curiosity about her photographs, nor does it allow for the assumption that the pictures can possibly convey a dusty impression." Burkhard Maus, Mensch Maus…! Der Blog für die Freiheit der Künste