Fotograf Magazine

Reiner Riedler

Life enacted

The Vienna-based Reiner Riedler is widely known for his commercial and documentary photography work, as well as for co-founding the ever-growing platform for self-published photobooks, Reflektor. Since 1989, he has been engaged in projects that took him on excursions to what he calls “the periphery of our habitats”; geographical regions and ideological places where life and events inspire and differ from his Central European viewpoints.

In 2004, Reiner Riedler embarked on his photographic series, Fake Holidays, during a time when our perception of the world was distinct. Against the unnerving background of the Global War on Terror and amidst chronic news reports on suicide-bombing attacks, people increasingly began to desire a kind of readymade entertainment. While we were already familiar with amusement parks, a tropical island resort that opened in 2004 in a Nazi-Germany-era-built airship hangar offered a new formula for tourism. For those who couldn’t spare the time, money or inclination to travel to far-flung destinations, the indoor retreat in the German town of Halbe offered a simulated beach experience. Looking back, simulated reality has gained popularity over the past decade thanks to TV shows like Big Brother and Survivor (1997) and movies such as The Truman Show (1998) and The Matrix (1999). Despite low-cost airlines offering competitive deals to all kinds of destinations around the same time, modern man had embarked instead on a journey into a world of imitations. Immersive stages on which tourists performed a curated life, including those of Tropical Island Resort (DE), Holy Land Experience and Star Trek Experience (USA), Minsk World and Window of the World (CN), and Titanic Resort Aqua Park (EG), caught the attention of Reiner Riedler. Accompanied by other examples of thematic parks, replicas of cities, luxury indoor ski resorts, sex clubs, and hotels, he brought images of such scenes together in the 2009 publication Fake Holidays. Through his visually captivating, bizarre, and witty photographs, the artist comments on the artificial nature of holidays with fascination. Riedler’s project offers an intriguing perspective on humanity’s inclination towards simulacrums.


Reiner Riedler is a photographer based in Vienna, Austria. He focuses his work on topics related to human-environment interactions, fragility, and existence. Projects, including the series Fake Holidays, have been shown in solo and group exhibitions and photography festivals internationally. Currently, he is working on his debut film project.

Jan Van Woensel is a curator, art critic, and researcher based in Prague, the Czech Republic. In his curatorial projects, he focuses on social-political subjects, history, and philosophy.

Jan Van Woensel