Xavier Schwebel is a freelance photographer based in Paris. Since the late 1990s, he has focused on unstable territories subject to complex social, environmental or political realities, as well as the links that unite these changing spaces with the men and women who inhabit them.
His work is part of a documentary approach that favours a sensitive look and a temporality that allows him to go beyond the spectacular to better encounter and report.
He led a first project on the end of coal mining in France (‘Last Coal’, 2004) followed by an in-depth work on the consequences of the contamination linked to the Chernobyl disaster (‘Small Doses’, Belarus, 2005-2006), a series awarded at the Kodak Talent Grant in 2007.
From 2004 to 2019, through collaborations with various NGOs, he worked on areas in tension subject to major humanitarian crises (Darfur, 2004 / Tsunami in Tamil Nadu, India, 2005 / Earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan, 2005 / Civil War in Congo-Brazzaville, 2006 / Post-election crisis in Ivory Coast, 2011 / Kachin conflict, Myanmar, 2015 / ‘Post-FARC peace process, Colombia, 2018 / Development and indigenous identity in the Amazon, Brazil, 2019).
In collaboration with writer Cécile Portier, he is interested in the social issues of relocations in France (“118, An Ordinary Closure”, Selles-sur-Cher, 2005-2010) by following the long-term consequences of the closure of a ceramics production unit in a de-industrializing territory in the south of Loir-et-Cher.
In 2010, he began a new project in connection with the French Institute of Anatolian Studies and the O.U.I (Istanbul Urban Observatory) on the ongoing urban mutations in the turkish megalopolis and the authoritarian drifts of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s urban planning policy. This project has been presented and exhibited in France and abroad (Saint-Etienne Biennale, 2012, Porto Photo Fest, 2018).
In line with this work, he is invited to join the collective project “Epicentres”, a cross-sectional look at the mutations taking place within different territories of the Greater Paris area. The project brings together a dozen photographers around Raphaële Bertho, researcher, lecturer in Arts and exhibition curator (“Paysages Français”, BNF, 2018).
His work has been published in Le Monde, The Sunday Times Magazine, The Australian, National Geographic France, D la Repubblica Magazine, La Vie, L’Obs, La Croix… He also works on commission for institutional and private clients.
He was part of the cooperative agency Picturetank until 2018.