Artist Jimmy Nelson presents 'The Last Sentinels' in Atelier des Lumières, Paris: the first time that Indigenous cultures are brought to life immersively

Pioneering multimedia installation immerses visitors in Indigenous cultures and confronts them with our modern day crisis of disconnection

From 16 to 31 October 2020, the acclaimed artist Jimmy Nelson will take up the space of Atelier des Lumières for a breathtaking art show combining photography, film, animation, and sound. This adventure will invite the visitor to follow the footsteps of Indigenous peoples and to celebrate them as our new role models. The Last Sentinels is a 40-minute immersive experience that reconnects visitors to themselves, others, and the planet.

Not just ‘moving wallpaper’– this is immersive and all-encompassing art with a huge social, cultural, environmental message” 

Jacques de Tarragon, director of Atelier des Lumières
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The art space Atelier des Lumières ("Studio of Light"), founded by Culturespaces in 2018, is located in a repurposed 19th Century foundry in the heart of Paris. It uses 120 digital projectors and a spatialized sound system with 50 speakers to present immersive sight-and-sound exhibitions based on the works of famous artists from the past and present. Thanks to the world's largest fixed video installation in an area of 3300 m², the audience will be fully immersed in images, movement and sound, amplifying all emotions.

It is a total submersion in the art and brings it alive, which is unique in the world. Atelier des Lumières is leading in a new inclusive art wave, in which accessibility for all is key. Never in the history of art has this rich body of work been shown in such a contemporary way. 

Artist Jimmy Nelson

After having made a wonderful debut in 2018 with the very first exhibition dedicated to Gustav Klimt, a majestic exhibition addressing the oeuvre of Vincent van Gogh paved the way for the work of the great masters, from Monet to Chagall, Renoir, Picasso and Matisse.

The role of an art centre is to compartmentalize, and that is why digital technology is so important in twenty-first-century exhibitions. Used for creative purposes, this technology has become a formidable vector for dissemination, and is capable of creating links between eras, adding dynamism to artistic practices, amplifying emotions, and reaching the largest possible audience.

Bruno Monnier, president of Culturespaces 

From spectacle to guardianship

This autumn, Paris will have a unique premiere of an entirely new initiative by Atelier des Lumières and the Dutch Jimmy Nelson Foundation.  The Jimmy Nelson Foundation is founded with the mission to safeguard the world's last Indigenous cultures and share their valuable wisdom with the world. 

“We need to protect Indigenous cultures to protect the planet from ecocide; the red thread connecting all Indigenous communities is their respect for the land. This 5% of the population protects 80% of the Earth’s remaining biodiversity. We need these cultures to help save the environment”, says artist Jimmy Nelson. This is one of the main ideas behind the show.  The Last Sentinels promotes environmental and cultural guardianship by immersing visitors into the world of Indigenous cultures who are protecting the natural planet.  

We think the world belongs to us, but we belong to the world: The Last Sentinels shows that we must learn from Indigenous communities.

Jimmy Nelson

Through this immersive experience, the visitor regains the connection with the source of what it is to be human. We, as the dominant culture, have distanced ourselves from our origins and tend to have forgotten our purpose of living in full connection with each other, ourselves and the natural world. The few on this planet that are still in touch with this knowledge and live by its values are Indigenous peoples. These cultures are the guardians of both humanity and this planet. They are the living examples of how to live in respect to their natural environment, how to understand that we are all united, and how to live our lives to the fullest. By making The Last Sentinels, Jimmy Nelson and his team hold up a mirror to humanity; they invite us to see and reflect on ourselves through the eyes of the other, and confront us with an overwhelming call to action. Its purpose is provide a radical intervention in rethinking our own values and behaviour; our role within humanity.

As cultures are rapidly changing through time and the world's cultural diversity is at risk, now is the moment to act. The Jimmy Nelson Foundation supports Indigenous communities in preserving and passing on their traditional heritage and knowledge by investing in reciprocity projects for the communities Jimmy visited, for now and generations to come.

The Last Sentinels is an example of how the Jimmy Nelson Foundation bridges the disconnection between humanity and the natural world through learning from Indigenous life and knowledge.

Photographic Artist Jimmy Nelson

Practical information

- The show runs from the 16th to 31st of October

- Open daily from 6.30 PM to 11 PM

- Atelier des Lumières is situated at 38 rue Saint-Maur 75011 Paris

- Metro lines 9 (Voltaire, Saint-Ambroise) and 3 (Rue Saint-Maur)


- Full price: € 13 / Youth price (from 5 to 25 years old): € 10

- Every ticket and book sold fuels the Jimmy Nelson Foundation in supporting the communities directly to bring their heritage and knowledge healthily into the future.

- Order tickets here.

Press previews

- 8th and 15th of October

 - 6.30 PM: arrival of journalists

-  6.45 PM: Jimmy’s speech

- 7 PM: projection and interviews with Jimmy

Interviews with Jimmy Nelson in Atelier des Lumières

8th, 9th, 15th, 16th 17th and 18th of October

Book signing sessions

- 16th, 17th and 18th of October

- From 7 PM until 11 PM

Overnight in Paris

Looking for a place to stay in Paris to see the exhibition? Citizen M sponsors the show and offers you a 15% discount!

Book here.


For press and interview requests, contact:

Lili van Lith, Jimmy Nelson Foundation

+31 (0)20 7220925

+31 (6)52 71 09 33

Download images and teasers here:

Download PDF
Download PDF
About Jimmy Nelson

Jimmy Nelson (UK, 1967) started working as a photographer in 1987. Having spent ten years at a Jesuit boarding school in the North of England, he set off on his own to traverse the length of Tibet on foot (1985). The journey lasted two years and upon his return his visual diary, featuring revealing images of a previously inaccessible Tibet, was published.

Soon after (1987) he was commissioned to cover a variety of culturally newsworthy themes for many of the world-leading publications ranging from the Russian involvement in Afghanistan and the ongoing strife between India and Pakistan in Kashmir to the beginning of the war in former Yugoslavia.

In early 1994 he and his Dutch ex-wife Ashkaine Hora Adema produced Literary Portraits of China. A coffee-table book about all indigenous cultures in China and their translated literature. From 1997 onwards, Jimmy undertook commercial advertising assignments for many of the world’s leading brands. Meanwhile, he spent his whole life accumulating images of indigenous cultures.

In 2010 he began his journey to create the artistic document that became Before They Pass Away, which was published in October 2013. Its success and the responses to it have enabled and encouraged Jimmy to continue this journey. In October 2018, Nelson published the first interactive book Homage to Humanity, for which he visited another unique 34 indigenous cultures around the globe. The book is accompanied by the 2019 Webby Award-winning mobile application that makes it possible to scan every image in the book and bring them to life with exclusive films, interviews and 360 ̊ film material. This allows people to see the making of the work and to understand the process behind it.

Today Jimmy is using an 8x10 analogue plate camera to bring the project to its next level. Jimmy strongly believes that if you change the way you look at people, the people you look at change. And if that change is powerful enough, it will gather momentum to affect the whole of humanity. A message that today he is promoting through talks at international conferences and museum exhibitions. With the proceedings of his art projects, the Jimmy Nelson Foundation was set up to take it a step further in supporting the communities on the ground.