Avenue des Champs-Élysées

Digital print

Avenue des Champs-Élysées is a photograph taken on Bastille Day; a national event presided over by the President of France and foreign dignitaries. While previously held elsewhere within Paris, it was first hosted along the Champs-Élysées* on the 14th of July, 1915 and has continued as an annual event.

Amidst tight security and vigilance, spectators gather behind a metal barricade to observe and cheer the spectacle which displays the country’s munitions and military force. The sensate experience of the parade brings to question the contemporary meaning and intention of hosting a military parade as part of a national event in France, or other such similar demonstrations around the world. This event is in stark contrast to the original focus of Bastille Day which was celebrated as a feast, before France became militarized in 1880.


Paradoxically, military parades are designed to create a sense of national pride and civil protection but on the other hand one can feel intimidated by the force of these armaments which evoke an aggressive and foreboding atmosphere. The photograph reflects the transitory nature of the parade; leaving many spectators to further question what may or may not have existed.

Avenue des Champs-Élysées was developed while Coelho was Artist-in-Residence at the Centre International d’Accueil et d’Echanges des Récollets in Paris, France, 2012.

*In the 17th century, the avenue was originally fields and market gardens and has gone through several transformations; including the name which was changed to Champs-Élysées in 1709. During the 18th century it became a fashionable venue and even today it is one of the principal tourist destinations; lined with luxury shops and cafés. The avenue runs for 1.91 kilometers, in the northwest district of Paris and ends at the Arc de Triomphe.

- Davide Allison

Digital print on archival paper / Print dimension: L 29.7 X B 42 centimeters