On Sunday February 19 17:30, the exhibition North Korea, between Propaganda and Reality opens at the Nutshuis in The Hague, the Netherlands.
An introduction to the exhibition, written by Koen De Ceuster:
North Korea, between Propaganda and Reality
Like a forbidden fruit, North Korea appears irresistibly attractive. The attraction for the country is commensurate with its apparent inaccessibility. Admission to the country for journalists and photographers alike is difficult and only sporadically granted. Once inside, the state takes charge over itineraries, visits and interviews. North Korea’s obsession with how it is perceived results in fierce attempts at trying to maintain total control over information, both within the country and to the outside world.
An intuitive reaction by the recipients of such overbearing manipulation is to unmask North Korea’s utopian pretence by unveiling the dystopian reality shrouded in propaganda. Propelling such a reaction is a common sense understanding that propaganda and reality are each other’s polar opposites. On closer scrutiny, reality and propaganda are two sides of the same coin. Propaganda is an inseparable part of North Korean reality. Not only does propaganda impregnate daily life, it is the lens through which both North Koreans and outsiders read reality.
Propaganda essentially creates an ideologically defined perception of the world. The impulsive reaction of many an observer to North Korea’s particularly manipulative and comprehensive propaganda system is triggered by the surreal gap separating experienced reality and the propaganda image. The underlying altercation, however, is between the observer’s ideologically determined observation and North Korea’s represented reality. Ultimately, reality is circumscribed both by North Korean propaganda and the observing gaze. The works shown in this exhibition operate between these two apparent extremes. Where Tomas van Houtryve’s photos feed on the dejection of discovering hidden realities, Charlie Crane drenches the North Korea as it was unveiled to him in a nostalgically melancholic light. When antagonism turns into engagement with the North Korean everyday, a process of introspection is set in motion that allows for a more refined and nuanced pursuit of the relationship between propaganda and reality. When disaffection turns into dedication and undisputed objectification is replaced by pointed self-reflection, space opens up for nuances. Alice Wielinga’s work seeks out that space. Leaving behind the lingering assumption of objectivity implied in documentary photography, she resolutely asserts the expressive freedom of an artist. In her work, we encounter a kaleidoscopic reality, fragments of photographic observations entwined with segments from North Korean realistic art work tightly woven into an image of an assembled reality. In doing so, Alice Wielinga reflects on the unwieldiness of the objective world and the tangledness of its observation. Her creative intervention exposes reality as a collation of image slices accumulated over time. No didactic forceful view here, but a retiring probing attempt at capturing the confusing layering of everyday North Korean reality.
The program of the opening is as follows:
Food, drinks, movie and interview
18.00 Openingspeach by Koen de Ceuster.
18.10 Interview with Alice Wielinga by Mirjam Zweers
18.20-19.00 Film: North Korea, a Life between Propaganda and Reality (2015) by Alice Wielinga in filmkluis (duration: 10 min)
19.00-19.15 Speedtour by Alice through the exhibition
19.15-20.45 The Story of our Home, movie by Chol Hap-Pak (2013)
The exhibition will be on view till April 8th 2017.
For all of you in and around The Hague, hope to see you on February 19 at the Nutshuis, Riviervismarkt 5 in The Hague.