The Austrian photographer Reiner Riedler began photographing holiday destinations in 2004, after returning from a visit to artificial beaches in Berlin and Hamburg, in Germany. Over the course of the next five years, Riedler photographed various artificial holiday destinations—indoor ski resorts in arid Dubai, a recreation of the Niagara Falls in China, Japan’s popular Love Hotels, and theme parks in Florida with artificial monuments, among others. “When wishes are out of reach, simulation is taking over our leisure time and our holidays,” the Austrian writer Jens Lindworsky wrote of Riedler’s project. “Imaginary worlds are created, often under massive technological exertion, in order to offer us experience as reproducible merchandise. Although the quality of these adventures on demand sometimes proves to be rather dubious, the boom does shed light on one thing: the yearnings and dreams underlying people’s daily lives.”
Fake Holidays, which will be featured at JaipurPhoto, a travel photography festival being held between 24 February and 5 March 2017, depicts both the often-kitsch locales—bright, vibrant backgrounds, featuring replicas of trees, snow or famous monuments—and the holidaymakers visiting these destinations. To gain entry into the places he intended to photograph without prior permission, Riedler would sometimes have to dress up as a tourist himself. “In water parks I wore a bathing suit with a towel around my shoulders,” he told the web-based daily magazine Slate, in 2012. Though he conducted many trips for the project, his experiences did not result in any “adventures.” “I learned that in leisure parks there were stimuli but no content … there was just consumption.”
Disclosure: The photo editor for this publication is the coordinator of the speaker’s program at JaipurPhoto.
Reiner Riedler is an Austrian documentary photographer.