Philippe Chancel

© Brigitte Ollier

“At first glance, his photos are cold and terrifying,” wrote Raymond Depardon with respect to the series that Philippe Chancel produced in North Korea. Chancel’s images are frontal and devoid of emotion. Beyond appearances, they identify and track any ideology and propaganda at work: the mass spectacles of North Korea that are perfectly synchronised and as stupefying as they are disturbing (Arirang), or the photos of foreign factory workers, exploited by the United Arab Emirates, who fight against an inhuman heat (Workers). These series present authoritarian regimes, captured by the photographer’s glacial lens. On the crossroads between art, journalism and documentary, Chancel also broaches other subjects, like his series of portraits of contemporary artists (Regards d’artistes). The book Souvenirs de, examines major capitals in an original way, as seen through their shop windows. He has also made documentaries, such as the one on painter-calligrapher Fabienne Verdier (Fabienne Verdier: flux).

Born in 1959, he was initiated to photography at a very young age by a major reporter. After studies in economics, then photojournalism in Paris, he devoted himself to photography from the age of 22. He started to make a name for himself with his reports from Eastern Europe, which were published in many international magazines, and he held his first exhibition in 1990. His work is regularly presented throughout the world and has given rise to many publications.


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