Maxime Riché



8 November 2018, the megafire Camp Fire devastated the town of Paradise, California, in four hours. It destroyed 18,800 structures and killed 89 people, casting many others into a state of precariousness.


In all symbolisms since the myth of Prometheus, mastery of fire has given man power over the rest of the living world. But megafires no longer spare any part of the globe: increasingly frequent and uncontrollable, they continue to confront us with our own fragility. Fires now surround Paradise every year. The North Complex Fire burned a few miles away in summer 2020. The Dixie Fire, active from July to October 2021, ranked as largest in the State’s history and consumed 963,000 acres of land.


Maxime Riché travelled to Paradise in 2020, and in the summer of 2021 he returned to meet those who had decided to rebuild their ‘paradise’ in a place that now seems brutally inhospitable. All slowly take stock of the new reality, midway between the desire for the conservation of the place they cherished and for a new relationship with a landscape wounded at its very heart. To account for the intensity of emotion he heard in his conversations with them, the photographer uses an infrared film, the blazing colours of which break into the tenuous normality of a life they are trying to rebuild. ‘Flashbacks’ of the inferno they went through, they serve to recall the memory of the flames, seared on the retinae of the survivors as they rebuild in the shadow of the next disaster.


Navigating the boundaries of documentary and fiction, the tale of Paradise gives us a glimpse of the next place that will have to go through this healing process in the wake of a disaster, the causes of which are – increasingly – human. But it also shows our strength: faced with challenges, we keep adapting relentlessly. These landscapes could be ours. Decked with the colours of fire – carmine reds, yellows and blacks – they appeal to our universal and physical experience of fire. They tell the story of our journey: that of our resilience, of our own human condition.

Maxime Riché (Paris) In his documentary work, he deals with our relationship with the living world: our ability to adapt to the upheavals of our environment and the evolution of our living habits imposed by these new conditions. Thanks to a specific use of the photographic medium he takes the liberty to mix documentary with fiction and to blur the temporalities of the narratives to let our imagination invest these stories, reflect and carry out a sensitive introspection.

His latest work on megafires, “Paradise”, was nominated for the Leica Oskar Barnack Awards and Prix Pictet in 2021 and awarded the CNAP documentary photography grant as well as the Special Mention of the LNP Prize (Les Nuits Photo) in 2021. Invited to give a TEDx conference in Wageningen (Netherlands) in 2018, he presented “Climate Heroes” (2010-2018) in which he documents a series of citizen solutions to mitigate our carbon emissions, exhibited at COP21 in 2015 and this September 2021 at Biennale Photoclimat in Paris.

01/05 SUNDAY

H 15

Chiostri di San Pietro | Laboratorio Aperto



Moderators Tim Clark and Walter Guadagnini


05/06 SUNDAY

H 16

Guided tour of exhibitions in Galleria Santa Maria

Cost: € 3 guided tour + entrance ticket

By reservation:


Galleria Santa Maria
Reggio Emilia



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Galleria Santa Maria