Wirz, Paul (swedish)
Between 1916 and 1955 the Swiss anthropologist and collector Paul Wirz (1892–1955) took several thousand photographs during his research trips to New Guinea, where he stayed with the Marind-anim of the south coast, at Lake Sentani, in the highlands with the Western Dani and the Enga, at the Papuan Gulf (Gogodala), and in the Sepik and Maprik areas. For his black-and-white–dominated photography Wirz used first gelatin dry-plate technology, later roll film. The photographs served as illustrations for his numerous publications, and, sometimes hand-colored, as lantern slides for his lectures. In content, Wirz believed that photography should above all document and conserve cultural aspects of the life of “men of nature,” that is, societies that were barely influenced by Western culture, colonialism, and missionary work. He thus focused on portraits of individuals and groups to fix anthropological and ethnograpical information - such as physique, decoration, clothing—and on visible socioreligious signs, because for him the traditional religious structure formed the foundation of culture. Being a combination of both, shots of the dema actors of the Marind-anim became his best known photographs. (IN SEARCH OF “MEN OF NATURE”: PAUL WIRZ’S PHOTOGRAPHY IN NEW GUINEA, 1916–1955 Andrea E. Schmidt, Pacific Studies, Vol. 20, No. 4—December 1997)
Paul Wirz, schweizisk antropolog och samlare.