Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Valle del Chotas, Ecuador ,


Three years ago, Montreal-based photographer Benoit Paillé left everything behind, fitting his entire life inside a 21-foot camper. He’s anchored to nothing and free to explore; he mets strangers along the way, says goodbye, and moves along. Traversing the streets and landscapes of Mexico and Ecuador, he creates uncanny visions of daily life, scenes in which the mundane goings on become electric rituals and rites, thrumming with color.

In his camper, Paillé derives energy from a solar panel; he carries his camera, a flash, and colored gels. He has minimal resources, but he does have a toaster, for him a “real luxury.” The vivid and unnatural color that saturates his travel diaries, explains the artist, is an allusion to his own creative agency; as photographer, he can bend and mutate reality to suit his whims. Neon pinks, greens, and blues become like a signature, a fingerprint evidencing his own existence.

Despite the exuberance and whimsy inherit in his photographs, Paillé is quick to point out his own role as a cynic. The clear artifice of the images also obliquely references the tourism market and the ways in which beautiful, natural landscapes become synthetic and marketable. It’s all a thinly veiled rouse, a visual “joke,” to cite the artist.

From a photographer who has chosen to live, as he puts it, “off the grid,” the Daliesque transmutations of the Mexican and Ecuadorian terrain contain hidden meanings. We’re seduced by the duplicity of these daydreams, and at the same time, disquieted by the knowledge that it’s always an illusion. Down the rabbit hole we go.

Follow Paillé’s journeys on Instagram.


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Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico


Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico


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All images © Benoit Paillé

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