photo Richard-Max Tremblay / Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal

War Tourist

5-channel video installation, colour, stereo sound (in English with English subtitles), 98', 2004-08



In cities which have been through a war or a disaster recently, or which are known to be dangerous, a professional tourist guide is hired and asked to organize a guided tour - which is filmed - of the worst destructions, or the most dangerous zones in the city.

war tourist wants to see, up close, the chaos and pain of others. He travels the world in search of ever-stronger sensations. His curiosity also acts to keep these events at a distance. He travels to assure himself that all this destruction and pain are well and truly somewhere else and that they don’t threaten him at home.

The guide’s talk brings two views of the place face to face: the local view and the outside view. In the relationship between the guide and War Tourist, these two views meet through an arrangement identical to that of a supplier filling a customer’s order. The guide shows the tourist what the tourist wants to see, even if it means inventing an idealized, picturesque version of reality. He expresses himself in English—the language of tourism—and, even though they are wholly intelligible, his words are subtitled and slightly altered, in that same language. This detail denotes the tourist-viewer’s sense of superiority and reinforces the idea that the guide is indeed the Other: never perfectly clear or comprehensible.


To watch the videos


The War Tourist project is constituted of five parts, each part corresponding to a given destination.


War Tourist in Sarajevo
This video shows a visit of Sarajevo's ruins.




War Tourist in the Suburbs of Paris
This video brings the visitor to the suburbs of Paris, where important riots took place in 2005.



War Tourist in New Orleans
This video brings the visitor to New Orleans, two years after hurricane Katrina devastated the city.



War Tourist in Chernobyl
This video brings the visitor to Chernobyl, in the exclusion zone created after the explosion of a nuclear reactor in 1986.



War Tourist in Auschwitz
This video brings the visitor to the concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau where over 1 million people died during WW2, mostly Jews.




Realized with the support of

Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec

Association Arrimages



interview with david norr, elsewhere catalogue, usf contemporary art museum, tampa, fl, 2007

City Sharing, War Tourist in the Suburbs of Paris, Juin 2007

MARTI-JUFRESA, Felip, "War Tourist in Chernobyl", Etc, no.81, Montréal, mars-mai 2008

MALAGUTI, Raffaella, "Turisti di guerra a Montreal", Alias, supplemento de Il Manifesto, Roma, 30 Agosto 2008

HORNE, Stephen, "The Québec Triennial", Border Crossings, Winnipeg, no. 107, sept. 2008

REBIERE, Nicolas, "Ville sans vie", Sud Ouest, Villeneuve sur Lot, 23 sept. 2008

GODFREYI, Dominique, "Images piégées", Sud Ouest, Bordeaux, 14 sept. 2008

REBIERE, Nicolas, "Des émeutes plus vraies que nature", Sud Ouest, Villeneuve sur Lot, 6 sept. 2008

HOWELL, Steven, Press Republican, Plattsburgh, May 30, 2008

Nothing is Lost, Nothing is Created, Everything is Transformed, Québec Triennial, Exhibition catalogue, Museum of Contemporary Art, Montreal,texts by Mark Lanctot, Josée Bélisle, Paulette Gagnon, Pierre Landry, Montreal, 2008

Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal, "Entrevue avec Emanuel Licha", may 2008

artv, mange ta ville, "danger", november 2008

Arning, Bill, "Biennials and survey shows", Frieze, London, no. 120, Jan. 2009

Debatty, Régine, "Emanuel Licha's War Tourist series at LOOP",, june 1, 2009

Diabolique, exhibition catalogue, Dunlop art gallery, regina, Texts by Amanda Cachia, Dick Averns, Randal Rogers and Sunera Thobani, 2009

The storyteller, exhibition catalogue, independent Curators International, New York, texts by Claire Gilman & Margaret Sundell, Okwui Enwezor, T.J. Demos, 2010

Transient Spaces - The tourist Syndrome, exhibition catalogue, argobooks, Berlin, texts by Marina Sorbello and Antje Weitzel, 2010