Have a wander through these strange, hyper-real images from German photographer Christoph Sillem. Are you in a video-game? Or a cartoon? Not quite…
Once upon a time, not so long ago, Sillem noticed a giant circle 30km east of Paris – and on closer inspection realised that it was the ring road that surrounds Disneyland Paris. He then wondered what kind of influence Disneyland had beyond its perimeter, and went on a quest to see for himself.
Christoph found himself in the community of Val d’Europe, which, in the photographer’s words, is “a Truman Show like über-replica of a French village from the last century, which seems to have sprung up overnight.” The town is, in fact, mostly owned by The Walt Disney Company and was built in conjunction with Disneyland Paris to provide accommodation for its employees. It was recently designed by New York-based architecture firm, Cooper, Robertson & Partners, according to the style of Baron Haussman – a civic planner responsible for much of the architectural redevelopment of Paris in the 1860s.
Jean Baudrillard, in his 1981 text, Simulacra and Simulation states that “Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real”… but if that is the case, then what on earth do we see here? It’s an environment that, sure enough, extends the architectural fiction of Disneyland into the real world – and these photographs, compellingly composed of beautiful skies and set-like, unpeopled structures, are all the more intriguing for the truth that, at first glance, they appear to mask. C’est bizarre.