Laurent Laporte is a photographer based in Paris. His photo-documentary series Balnearism takes a peek into the waves of tourism that flood the Spanish coastal regions during the summer months. In doing so he turns the gaze away from the iconic landscapes and landmarks that draw tourists to this area, and instead focuses on the face of tourism itself: bathing holiday-goers, ski jets and crowded parking lots.
“I spent one month travelling around the Costa Brava in Spain with my sailboat in August, the most “touristic” month of the year. This area is one of the most beautiful place in Europe but also one of the most disfigured due to the increasing mass-tourism. After spending some time there, I began to appreciate the architecture, and tried to locate traces of the old fashioned ‘tourism aesthetic;’ architecturally but also culturally. Are the famous buildings bars which “destroyed’ the coast during the 70’s so ugly today? Will “tourism culture” stay forever, including its negative side-effects? (I call this the “Martin Parr” observation.) I thought there was something interesting there. Today, our behaviour has changed so much concerning traveling, with Airbnb, Yelp, Trip Advisor facilitating our movements from place to place. Maybe this old era of massive tourism will one day be remembered as the golden era of holidays.
I tried to capture here what I consider as the last breaths of classic tourism. As our traveling manners had radically changed these last years, these representations of tourism’s old era now seem like relics: a new status which allows them to be, I think, aesthetically reconsidered.”