Michael Zumstein is born in 1970. Trained at the School of Photography in Vevey (Switzerland), member of the Oeil Public agency for 10 years, he joins Agence VU’ in 2010. He shares his time between taking on orders for the French press (Le Monde, Elle Magazine,Télérama) as well as foreign press (Newsweek, Wall Street Journal), on top of his personal projects.
His work follows the lines of investigative photojournalism. All the while following conflicts in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ivory coast and even Sudan, , Michaël Zumstein puts “the ambiguous relationship between Africa and the West” under the focus his lens.
The first photographer to enter the Coltan mines in the DRC in 2000, he condemns the cruel conditions of their mining operations that feed the high tech demand in the West.
In 2006, his repeatedly published reportage « Lokichokio, Humanitarian Eldorado », questions the efficiency and shortcomings of humanitarian actions in a village on the South Sudanese border.
With a growing interest in human rights, over the past ten years, he produces “Slaves of Firestone”, a reportage on the rubber industry in Liberia, criticizing the intelorable work conditions of employees, water pollution and the absurdity of a globalized market.
Under the guise of their “Dignity” campaign, Amnesty International (France) offers him the task of producing an investigation on the lodging problems in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2010: “This House is not for sale.”
The institutions, the written press, regularly call for Michaël’s work in the suburbs. His approachability as well as the esteem to which he holds his photographed subjects allows him to capture situations honestly in order to provide a feeling that goes beyond his photographs.
Pantin’s cityhall has offered him the production of several reportages on the Cité de Courtilières. Michaël has been working there for over a year. Witness to the tensions arisen between youth and police, he covers events occuring in Villiers-le-bel or Clichy-sous-Bois.
Le Monde newspaper gives him the 2007 coverage of the presidential election and he has continued, since then, to follow current social and political events for different newspapers who rely on him to produce reportages where the use of where sensibility and rigor are indispensable.
After getting his work on the post-Ivorian election crisis in 2011 noticed internationally, he receives a grant – Aide à la Production du CNAP (Centre National des Arts Plastiques) to pursue his project “Bons Amis” on Ivory Coast’s reconciliation.
In parallel to his work, Michaël hosts photography workshops in Africa, for World Press Photo. In 2011, he is chosen among 10 leading figures in the world of photography to participate in the Training of the Trainers (ToT) program. This workshop, organized by World Press Photo, allow him to perfect his teaching technique.
After four months of a political crisis, the confrontation between the internationally recognized president Alassane Ouattara and the outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo almost led the Côte d’Ivoire and Abidjan to civil war. On April, 11th 2011, the fallen president was arrested in his house by Alassane Ouattara’s supporters.
Facing a fierce opposition from the FANCI (National Armed Forces of Côte d’Ivoire) supporting Laurent Gbagbo, the Republican Forces had to fight during two weeks in the economic capital before the former president and his last loyal soldiers were finally arrested.
Nevertheless, the new president Alassane Ouattara has another fight lying ahead of him: pacify a country ravaged by decades of a latent conflict. He will have to establish the conditions of a national reconciliation, and will not be able to rule without it.