"von Zwehl's portraits work against the art of posing, and the myriad forms of expression we have all learned to help us respond to the self-consciousness of being a subject. What remains is a form of muteness, a surprising absence in place of the portrait's usual communicative mode. It is something that characterises her work and that is reinforced by the repetition inherent in her various series.
Even when they stare forwards, towards the camera and so towards us the viewers, von Zwehl's subjects appear disengaged and distracted, and we feel something is missing. We can't help but notice that the people are all uniformly dressed in the plainest of clothes. Some are red-faced, some look tired, some appear to have a strange weightlessness, some seem lost in concentration. Some indeed are turned away in profile, any chance of communication already lost. What von Zwehl achieves is a delicate balance between these elements in an attempt to create a space in which we might revise our habitual ways of observing and understanding portraits, and possibly ourselves."
- David Chandler, Extract from the introduction to 'Bettina von Zwehl' (Steidl/photoworks, 2007)