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David LaChapelle

Spree, 2019 - 2020

Pigment Print



a Commission of Geuer & Geuer Art

Düsseldorf, Germany

Over the last three decades David LaChapelle has examined the conflict between nature and civilization through a series of still life projects featuring meticulously crafted sets. In the summer of 2019, the artist began work on his newest project, Spree which finds a colossal mega cruise ship frozen in time - within a vast, icy landscape. Expanding his curiosity of the symbols behind exclusionary worlds, like the lost private planes rendered in his series, Aristocracy (2014) and the prized (flooded) artworks in Seismic Shift (2012), LaChapelle has become fixated on every aspect of the cruise industry over the last decade.

During the inception of his idea, historic written accounts of Shackelton’s Trans- Antarctic expedition loosely forayed into his own visions of nature reclaiming its oceans in an ice tundra (much like the gas stations reclaimed by forests in his 2014 series, Gas).


Intrigued by cruising’s escapist culture - and its leverage on a global economy as the fastest growing travel industry, LaChapelle began crafting the 35-centimeter model protagonist of his new narrative last July in Los Angeles. At the time, worldwide revenues for the cruise industry surpassed 35 billion dollars and an estimated 32 million passengers were expected to sail in 2020.


As the production on Spree was in its final stages in February of 2020, the project began to take on new meanings. The photograph was completed on March 9th. Ten days laters, Los Angeles was placed under a quarantine. Exactly one month later, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a no-sail order for cruises in American waters. Since then, empty mega ships around the world have been parked miles from shores, like the Brilliance of the Seas, which is currently anchored off the coast of Florida.

March 20, 2020

Geuer & Geuer Art

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