Inside the world's power bases: Photographer Luca Zanier gained access to the inner sanctums of the world's most influential organisations

The inner sanctums of the world's most influential organisations are off limits to most. But the photographer Luca Zanier has access all areas. He tells Holly Williams that power is as much about place as people

When we think about power, we usually think about people – the presidents and prime ministers, the generals and CEOs, the rich and influential. But many of these will owe their clout to the institutions or political systems that they're part of – that have their own long histories which will endure long after any one individual has retired or expired. And all this power must, in the end, reside somewhere: be exercised in a space, have a physical seat. It was these rooms and places where major political and financial decisions are thrashed out that caught the attention of the photographer Luca Zanier.

"The place is powerful," insists the 47-year-old. "People come and go, but the place stays the same down the generations." His project, taking huge, wide-angled images of empty meeting rooms at powerful organisations around the world, began in 2009 when he was in Paris and visited the headquarters of the French Communist Party. This curvaceous building – designed by the Brazilian Modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer – includes a central domed chamber: a functional meeting-room with rows of chairs, it's given a striking texture and twinkling lightness thanks to hanging, pale aluminium panels. That might sound chilly, but in Zanier's photograph they give a strangely pink, organic, enveloping appearance – a far cry from your average meeting-room blandness. "I was fascinated by the architecture [and began] thinking it could work as a project," he says.

And so Zanier began his Corridors of Power venture, which is still ongoing (with the amount of travelling involved, the images don't come cheap). How does he decide which locations will work? "For me, it was clear – it's a portrait of place, rather than people," explains Zanier, who is based in Zurich. "They have to have a good story, special architecture and they have to be a powerful organisation."

These powerful organisations also have to say yes. Zanier has gained access to some incredible places, from the UN Security Council in New York (almost alarmingly childlike in its primary-school primary colours) to the executive committee-room of Fifa in Zurich (dark wood and dark leather set off by alien-spaceship-like lighting). But being granted such permission isn't always quick, easy or affordable. "It really depends – the UN in New York, it took one phone call; Fifa, it was really complicated." Organisations have been known to refuse; requests have been known to get stuck in bureaucracy for months.

 

But the ambivalence goes both ways: Zanier has also travelled to organisations to shoot their inner sanctums only to discover they're too, well, dull. "If the organisation is important but if the place is not so special, I decide to have one picture less," concludes Zanier. So how can he tell if it will make a resonant image or not? "It's difficult to explain. You feel it after five minutes. There were a lot of places I didn't even take out a camera – it was clear it didn't work. You can see almost immediately [whether] you can do a picture or not."

Once he's got that magic "this will work" gut feeling, Zanier whips out his Nikon camera, and takes a series of quick shots from different angles. He then goes back to his hotel, and decides "this picture, this perspective, this angle – it's a really technical thing". After that, he returns to the room to take the final images. "I shoot twice because I stitch them together, so I have eight million pixels – amazing quality, so you can print them very large."

Zanier's shots have been exhibited at 1.52m by 2.25m: "You have this amazing quality – [the viewer] can go in really close and you don't see any pixels. This kind of picture has to be this quality. The bigger they are, the better they work – so you're really in this place that is really fascinating."

Luca Zanier is represented by Anzenberger Agency and Anzenberger Gallery: www.anzenbergergallery.com

His book is available at AnzenbergerGallery bookshop: www.anzenbergergallery-bookshop.com

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods

Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special

tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas

Arts and Entertainment
Dapper Laughs found success through the video app Vine

comedy Erm...he seems to be back

Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)

tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Arts and Entertainment
Bruce Forsyth and Tess Daly flanking 'Strictly' winners Flavia Cacace and Louis Smith

tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

    Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

    The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
    Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

    Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

    France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
    Sports Quiz of the Year

    Sports Quiz of the Year

    So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

    Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

    From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

    Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

    Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
    A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

    Christmas without hope

    Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
    After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

    The 'Black Museum'

    After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

    Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
    Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

    Chilly Christmas

    Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
    Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect