Nick Hannes was born in Antwerp in 1974, he lives and works in Belgium.
He graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) in Ghent in 1997. For the next eight years, he worked as a photojournalist.
In 2006, he stopped working for the press, in order to concentrate fully on his own documentary projects. Marked by a strong political and social component in which humor, irony, ambiguity and visual metaphors play a predominant role, his photographic approach asserts itself. In 2010, Nick started Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man, an epic project that involved twenty trips to 21 Mediterranean countries over a four-year period.
In “Garden of Delight” he presents Dubai as the ultimate playground of globalization and capitalism, and raises questions about authenticity and sustainability.
Dubai’s rapid transformation from a regional trade hub in the 1960s to today’s ultramodern metropolis is a fascinating case study of market-oriented urbanization. Entertainment and tourism are the main economic pillars of Dubai. The development of this excessive entertainment industry in Dubai has greatly impacted the UAE society, and the population of Dubai today is mainly composed of expatriates, only 10% are local Emirati citizens, whose traditional Islamic values are called into question by the imported western lifestyle.
Dubai is also a clear example of the phenomenon of “capsularization” characterized by separation and exclusion. In Dubai, there is, on one side, an archipelago of protected islands, the ‘capsules’ where life is good and another world, the rest: an ocean of poverty and chaos
The Garden of Delight series received the Magnum Photography Award in 2017 and the Zeiss Photography Award in 2018.
Meeting / Signatures, Paris Photo, Grand Palais, André Frère Éditions, booth SE 15
Friday, November 9 at 15h & Saturday, November 10 at 17h.
“Nick Hannes approaches this place of superlatives with the most detached attitude: without a critical program, without seeking abusive exploitation of what his subject abounds in possibilities of shooting, producing disgusting images. The style of his images is equidistant from promotional images, which we do not know sometimes if they took the reality as a model or if they were fully produced artificially on a computer screen, both the use of Photoshop in this matter is always caricatural, and images produced with a critical aim may be too easy because so obvious. The subject is indeed too good for any photographer who wants to be “critical”: it is a mine of excessive situations and everything seems to offer mockery, with disdainful, even contemptuous or so easily cynical. All the artistic and theoretical recipes have been used to try to show Dubai from a critical angle. But Dubai contains and generates of itself the evidence of its absurdity, its arrogant radicality, its misunderstanding of environmental issues.
Dubai continues to develop and think of itself as the global showroom of hypercapitalism, using resources and human beings who build it as if they were inexhaustible. Dubai ignores the concept of Anthropocene. It does not matter, that we have now entered a new period of mass extinction, not to mention that the accelerating changes in the global climate are endangering his own existence. Because its leaders are blinded by the financial power they have, made precisely from the exploitation of fossil energy on which our civilization was built, in an extreme and perilous dependence on oil and its derivatives. Dubai is the heart of the capitalocene, that is to say the transformation of balances allowing the coexistence of life forms inhabiting this planet, since the first industrial revolution and the hegemonic deployment of capitalism. It is not the human being that threatens life on Earth, but uncontrolled and non mastered development of its economic system. That, Dubai can not think of it, since it is the hyperplace of the capitalocene.
Nick Hannes represents the actuality of the Dubai phenomenon by exploring each of its locations rather than describing its urban and architectural structures, which are now well known to us via all the scopic regimes we have, including the satellite view. It represents the way in which human beings inhabit this paradoxical garden of delights. To live in the world is to experience space, from the scale of one’s own body to that of the most vast places, welcoming side by side a human crowd, as diverse as the entire planet. Dubai is above all a place of migration, chosen or constrained; chosen by the elite and their servants who come to make their money grow and spend their resources – coerced and suffered for those who work in the shadows, with conditions of another age, returning to the nineteenth century, in a reinvention of post-modern slavery.
This is what Nick Hannes represents, crudely but without forcing the line: the co-presence of bodies that ignore each other and participate together in the organic functioning of the machine Dubai. In a way, all these situations stun us image-after-image. There Placidly is the compulsion and voracity of bodies, but also their awkwardness and fragility in their ability to inhabit an artificial place, which today would be one of the nerve centers of a civilization with an uncertain future.
Welcome to the hyperreal desert of the capitalocene. Pascal Beausse, excerpt.
Nick Hannes, Garden of Delight
photographs: Nick Hannes
texts: Nick Hannes and Pascal Beausse
200 pages, size 20.5 x 27 cm + inset 16 pages – 89 images in four colors
flap cover – language: French / English – ISBN 979-10-92265-77-4
release date: November 16, 2018 – price: 45 €