Ariane De Palacio (PhD 2015) is a French photographer and PhD candidate in Geography at Laval University in Quebec. She is interested in territorial processes and the political, cultural and social dynamics that shape man-made landscapes, especially in the way they are staged as discourses on collective identity. The strange, muted images in her series Wonderland explore the way that tourism creates staged territories in preexisting landscapes, primarily to fulfill the fantasies of temporary visitors.
De Palacio’s soft, pastel photographs show us a world so perfect it seems to fall away from reality, resembling a film set more than a real place. Eerily devoid of human presence, they seem to suggest something has gone awry. Having grown up in a very touristy city, De Palacio explains that Wonderland was inspired by the schizophrenic pace of her hometown, which transformed into a completely different place in the winter. “Touristic places, particularly when they are established in economically, socially and culturally weakened territories, are constructed through an acculturation process,” she writes. “They are built as artificial scenery aiming at organizing and regulating a temporary population of tourists for a couple of months during high season. With Wonderland, I try to look at these exclusively touristic places as staged theatre sets, fallacious screens between the tourist and the territory.”
All images © Ariane De Palacio