Switzerland, an American dream

Inspired by Alvin Straight, star of David Lynch’s The Straight Story, which chronicles Alvin’s six-week journey across Iowa on a lawnmower, Yann Gross set out on a three-month trip through the Rhône Valley at the foot of the Swiss Alps.

Having just graduated from ECAL in Lausanne, Gross packed a tent and his camera equipment, hopped on his moped with an old milk trailer in tow, and hit the road. Three months were all he could afford: “I really looked like a loser, but maybe that made it easier to meet people,” he said.

And just 50 km from home, he stumbled across his very own American dream: Horizonville. That’s the name of a gas station in St-Maurice (VS) – a stop on his journey with an otherworldly atmosphere belying its closeness to home. Just metres off the state highway he discovered wild west-style roadhouses alongside totem poles. He met Lady Harley and biker gangs, cowboys, line dancers and Swiss dragsters racing on the former military airstrip in Turtmann. Swiss who live and dream their own American dream, despite having never set foot on US soil.

Yann Gross was born in 1981 in Vevey, Switzerland, and studied at ECAL in Lausanne.
His work has been published in Die Zeit, Neon Magazin, NZZ, WAD and Le Monde, among others.


Yann Gross, Horizonville, with a text by Joël Vacheron, 2011