The exhibition “Welcome Paradise / No Photography” presents a selection of photographs by Philippe Chancel and Ambroise Tezenas taken from their respective series dataZone and I was here - Dark Tourism. The images on view are emblematic of some countries and sites, which are currently attracting growing interest from the travel industry.
The absence of terra incognita encourages tour operators, countries and cities far from the tourist trail to offer new experiences and develop a tourist offer ex-nihilo for new “explorers” looking for thrill or novelty. Among the “unknown” lands photographed by Philippe Chancel, we discover North Korea and Dubai. Highly regulated tourist trips to North Korea are mostly organized at the occasion of the Arirang festival, a show gathering a thousand performers reconstructing the history of Korea, which Philippe Chancel fully photographed during a journey to Korea in 2006. Dubai, futuristic city and a symbol of ultra-liberal capitalism, develops a luxury tourist offer with resorts, malls and wide property projects as Palm Jumeirah and The World promoted by broad communication and advertising campaigns. Despite this openness, both countries remain extremely vigilant in terms of image and communication: visitors are under control and cannot move away from official trails or are under constant surveillance, more or less insidiously.
For his part, Ambrose Tézenas has taken several guided tours organized by tour operators on macabre sites: a stay in Karosta prison in Latvia, Visit Chernobyl Tour in Ukraine, Kennedy Assassination Tour in Dallas, Sichuan earthquake’s ruins tour in China, natural disasters or wars sites, are all places of desolation accessible to tourists. These images reveal the extent of this very odd tourism that exploits our fascination with death and relies on tragic events to develop a lucrative business. Then “No photography” is not unlike an injunction, a burst of dignity in response to the horror that went through these places.
Born in 1959, Philippe Chancel works and lives in Paris. He was introduced to photography at a very young age, took an economics degree at the University of Paris (Nanterre) followed by a post-graduate diploma in journalism at the Cfpj in Paris. Philippe Chancel’s work has been widely exhibited and published in France and abroad in a number of prestigious publications. These include “Regards d’artistes” – portraits of contemporary artists –, “Souvenirs” – a series of portraits of great capital cities (Paris, London, New York, Tokyo, Brussels) glimpsed through shop windows - produced in collaboration with Valérie Weill, and, lastly, his North Korean project, which brought him international recognition.
Over the past twenty years Philippe Chancel’s photography has explored the complex, shifting and fertile territory where art, documentaries and journalism meet. His is a constantly evolving project, focusing on the status of images when they are confronted with what constitutes “images” in the contemporary world. “DPRK”, in which Chancel offers a revealing and original vision of North Korea, was first shown in 2006 at the “Rencontres d’Arles”, then at the C/O Berlin. It was also exhibited at the Photographers’ Gallery in London, as part of the Deutsche Borse photography prize exhibition, where it won the visitors’ poll. “DPRK” also appeared in book form, published by Thames and Hudson. His work is included in many permanent public collections as well as private collections.
In 2015, his work has been presented at MoCP, Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, Drents Museum of Assen (Nederland), at Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, Canada), and exhibition of « Prix Elysée » at Museum of Elysée in Lausanne. Philippe Chancel’s work has been widely exhibited and published in France and abroad in a number of prestigious institutions and publications.
Ambroise Tézenas was born in 1972 in Paris, graduated from the Applied Arts School of Vevey (Switzerland) in 1994. Regularly he collaborates with french and international press. In 2001, the gradual decline of the great photo coverage, which became too expensive for newspapers yet more consumers of images, encourages him to adopt a way to work both more personal and more rigorous.
This is the beginning of a long-term project about the transformation of the city of Beijing, which just granted the 2008 Olympics. Trucking the Leica of reporter for a medium format view camera, he came back to photograph the same sites for five years. In 2006, his book “Beijing, theatre of the people“ won the Leica European Publishers Award for Photography. Exhibited at Rencontres d’Arles and at Kunsthal Museum of Rotterdam, this work is now part of the public collection of Bibliothèque Nationale de France. The project “I was here” illustrates the dark tourism, one of the new tendencies of the tourism industry. Taken through 12 sites, from Ukraine to Rwanda, China to Cambodia, these photographs invite a reflection on the growing interest of visitors for sites of tragedies, natural disasters or wars.
The list of these places was made in collaboration with professor J. Lennon, whose book “Dark Tourism, the attraction of death and disaster” (2000) is a reference in the matter. Exhibited at Rencontres Photographiques d’Arles in 2015, this work is the subject of two books, “Tourisme de la désolation” by Actes Sud editions and “Dark Tourism” by Dewi Lewis, and has enjoyed extensive media coverage in France and abroad. Since 2007 Ambroise Tézenas has collaborated with the New York Times Magazine, Le Monde, the International Herald Tribune, among others. In 2009 he won the Nikon Story Teller Award at the PDN Photo Annual (USA) for his photographs of Cuba commissioned by the New York Times Magazine.