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Paradise Island

Thomas Egli

What are tourists looking for on a remote tropical island? In 1985, Thomas Egli’s parents spent their honeymoon on Gili Trawangan, a small island near Lombok, in the Indonesian archipelago. In their stories and memories they described the island with its pristine white beaches, blue waters, and coral reefs as one of the most beautiful places on earth. Thomas Egli compares his parents’ memories with the current reality of the island.

Today, 30 years later, Gili Trawangan has been transformed from an untouched lagoon isle into a churning tourist destination that functions as backdrop and scenic stage for tourist illusions and unconstrained behaviour. This photographic investigation documents, among other aspects, contrasting realities such as Muslim traditions that co-exist side by side with residents and tourists openly indulging in drugs and alcohol use. On a deeper note, it exposes situations in which environmental, social, economic and political interests of the inhabitants collide with the harsh repercussions of global tourism through individual portraits, depicting staggering stories in a narrative that mirrors, and at the same time challenges the indifferent visuals and languages used by the tourism industry.


This project has been re-published in The Guardian on 29.03.2018:


Drunken Monkeyz
Fabienne and Alex, Paradise Island
Up to You
Skin Dive

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