The Magical World of Fake Holidays

Behold
The Photo Blog
Dec. 14 2012 11:39 AM

The Magical World of Fake Holidays

Behold is Slate's brand-new photo blog. Like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @beholdphotos and Tumblr. Learn what this space is all about here.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
Superman above Red Square, Topkapi Palace Hotel, Antalya, Turkey, 2006.

Reiner Riedler.

There are times when faking it might be better than the real thing.

Photographer Reiner Riedler’s series Fake Holidays, currently on view at Clerveaux-cité de l’image, examines the human obsession with artifice, specifically when it comes to travel and entertainment.

Advertisement

Riedler’s book, published by Moser Verlag, is filled with page after page of brightly colored examples of bizarre human behavior, including a variety of theme parks, replicas of cities in other cities, live-action role playing, and sex clubs. The introduction gives a brief but fascinating overview of several predecessors to the theme park of today, reminding us that leisure, vacation, and recreation weren’t readily available until well into the 19th century.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
Frivoli Swinger Club, Vienna, Austria, 2008.

Reiner Riedler.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
Center Parks Bispingen Holiday Park, Bispingen, Germany, 2007.

Reiner Riedler.

For many, the ability to travel abroad or have great adventures is unrealistic or impossible, and places like these give them a semblance of experiencing the real thing.

Riedler began this project after visiting the temporary beaches in Berlin and Hamburg, Germany. He was surprised to find it took just a few elements (sand, palm trees, inflatable swimming pools, and cocktails) to create the artifice of an actual beach holiday—right in the middle of landlocked cities. He began visiting these places around the world in search of cracks between reality and artifice.

When asked about weird situations he may have encountered while working, Riedler answered:

Well, you don't want to know how I was dressed during my work in swinger clubs, do you? I have to say that my outfit needed to be adapted to the special surroundings. Maybe the funniest things are connected to my appearance, the way I was dressed. It always depended on if I had permission or not. If not, I needed to be dressed like a tourist. In water parks I wore a bathing suit with a towel around my shoulders. In Las Vegas I was chased by security dogs after I entered private property. In Turkey they wanted my film because I photographed a worker who was spraying insecticides. I had permission but wasn't allowed to shoot this.

After working for about eight years on this project, you’d think Riedler would have endless anecdotes to share about his explorations. But surprisingly that’s not the case. “When I came home to my family (especially after long trips to China or Japan), I found that I had a lack of stories to tell,” he said. “It was strange because normally my trips are all little adventures, and I meet many interesting people with great stories and so many things happen. I learned that in leisure parks there were stimuli but no content. I realized the hollowness of these places. … I didn’t meet any people. There were no (real) adventures; there was just consumption.”

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
Tropical Islands Resort, Berlin-Brandenburg, Germany, 2007.

Reiner Riedler.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
Love Hotel, Tokyo, Japan, 2009.

Reiner Riedler.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
Host, Topkapi Palace Hotel, Antalya, Turkey, 2006.

Reiner Riedler.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
The Holy Land Experience Theme Park, Orlando, Florida, 2005.

Reiner Riedler.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
The Talk, Ski Dubai Indoor Ski Center, Dubai, 2006.

Reiner Riedler.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
Cosplayer, Tokyo Dome City, Tokyo, Japan, 2009.

Reiner Riedler.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
Minsk World Military Theme Park, Shenzhen, China, 2008.

Reiner Riedler.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
Window of the World Theme Park, Shenzhen, China, 2008.

Reiner Riedler.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
Mexico, Epcot, Disney World, Orlando, Florida, USA, 2005.

Reiner Riedler.

Reiner Riedler, Fake Holidays
Insect Screen, Titanic Resort Hotel, Antalya, Turkey, 2006.

Reiner Riedler.

Riedler's photos of these odd places give the sense that you are almost there—almost.

All photographs © Reiner Riedler. Courtesy Sous Les Etoiles Gallery, New York, Heartgalerie, Paris, and Anzenberger Gallery, Vienna.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.