— Portfolio

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Genuine « work in progress », Datazone is a remarkable portfolio in Philippe Chancel’s work.  Five « destinations » are brought together:  North Korea, the Emirates, Kabul, Port-au-Prince, Fukushima… So many regions, event settings and cultures picked out by the photographer over the past five years.  Philippe Chancel is one of those artists who struggle against the fast pace of life and strive to renew the meaning of the photographic image in contemporary reporting.

What can photography still express about our world?  Does it still have that personal power that it used to possess to reveal the forging of identities and thus display the unknown side of contemporary cultures?  This kind of belief has to be apprehended almost like ethics, a pursuit that one might consider desperate as our daily lives and even our imagination are now taken over by visual images, so abundant that we hardly notice them anymore.

Philippe Chancel opposes disillusionment with enthusiasm, an energy that every explorer needs. This enthusiasm doesn’t merely lie in the simple belief that one needs to explore our planet but that one needs to explore it differently.  The photographer succeeds in creating a singular script by using new recording technologies and defining a distance and style that coincide with his subjects. Whether with regard to the omnipresent authoritarian regime in North Korea, the caricatural ultra capitalism in Dubai or disasters hyped by the media, Philippe Chancel presents accurate detailed images, stripped of stylistic effects and poses.  The photographer sticks to reality, his images thus avoiding the pitfall of exoticism or other forms of sensationalism.

Philippe Chancel toys with different scales in order to approach reality – close-ups, middle shots, landscapes – from which emerge details that convey an active role in the reception of images, and that save them from any form of authority.

For Philippe Chancel, everything starts from the existent.  No special effects, no desire for staging.  The conditions in which the images are produced, the choice of moments and locations, the articulate and frontal style, all allow humankind to materialise in an extremely rich « Datazone », where the definition of « living together in harmony » is more global than ever.  The author produces his subjects in a continuous process which eludes the mirage of progress.  As such, Datazone originates in an anthropology of globalization.

Text by Damien Sausset and Adrien Chevrot / Translation and coordination by Cécile Poimboeuf

Find out « DATAZONE, Work in Progress », an exclusive edition (30 copies) signed by the artist at the Jeu de Paume Bookshop.This edition was produced by Philippe Chancel on the occasion of the publication of the portfolio « DATAZONE » on the online magazine of the Jeu de Paume.


Philippe Chancel official website
Books by Philippe Chancel
Prix Pictet : « Fukushima, The Irresistible Power of Nature »