Earlier this month, Klassik Magazine interviewed Alice.
Here an extract of the interview:
How would you define yourself as an artist?
As a passionate storyteller, who reflects on society and social issues.
Where do you find inspiration?
To seek for inspiration, I mostly look into art history. Like the paintings of Ilya Repin, propaganda art from North Korea or Persian miniature paitings.
The Persian miniature paintings have inspired me to create my most recent project called ‘Shadows of Pakistan’. For this project, I have also been inspired by the work of the talented photographer Muhammed Muheisen, who made an impressive body of work about refugees. His work from Pakistan inspired my greatly, and influenced my decision to create a project on this topic.
Is Brainstorming not the only creative method use to create new concepts?
Brainstorming is part of the development of a concept. The initiate idea most often comes from the combination of things I see in the world around me and those aspects that touch my heart.
Also the team you work with can be a part of the creative method. For the series ‘La Marie Antoinette Moderne’ I worked with a dream team: actress Victoria Koblenko, stylist Fleur Feringa, make-up artist Joyce Clerkx and hair artist Martin Wentzel. These people are extremely talented, hence I give them the needed space to bring in their creativity. Their input becomes part of my inspiration, which makes the development of the concept on ongoing process during the project.
To read the full article, visit Klassik Magazine.
The Museum of Contemporary Photography (MOCP) in Chicago , USA, has acquired 4 artworks from Alice’s series North Korea, a Life between Propaganda and Reality for their permanent collection.
Alice is very proud to have her work included in this renown photography collection. The MOCP acquired Epic of the Soldiers, Battle in Spring, Harvest Time and Keep Them Rolling; 4 works from the series North Korea, a Life between Propaganda and Reality.
About MOCP: The Museum of Contemporary Photography (MoCP) is the leading photography museum in the Midwest, presenting projects and exhibitions and acquiring works that embrace a wide range of contemporary aesthetics and technologies. Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the museum considers all elements to promote a greater understanding and appreciation of the artistic, cultural and political implication of the image in our world today.
The Museum is committed to broadening the visual arts by constantly searching for new national and international talent to exhibit rather than simply following suit established by larger institutions. To this end, the museum’s programming guides the public to a greater understanding of thought-provoking contemporary photography as well as an appreciation for traditional work that has not yet received critical acclaim.
Read more on MOCP’s website
In their last December’s Christmas edition, der Stern published a 6 spread article about North Korea, a Life between Propaganda and Reality, written by Silke Müller.
The article is called Ein Land, zwei Welten. For the ones amongst us who read German, here an extract of the article:
“Der oberste Führer möchte selbst bestimmen, welches Bild sich die Welt von seinem Land macht. Ungefilterte Informationen dringen kaum nach außen. Das rächt sich: Wohl kaum eine Nation beflügelt die Fantasie und die Neugier wie Nordkorea, das sich in der offiziellen Propaganda als blumiges und quietschbuntes Paradies feiert.
Die niederländische Fotografin Alice Wielinga faszinierte der Gegensatz zwischen der Selbstdarstellung des Regimes und der Realität. Als sie 2013 beschloss, in das Land aufzubrechen, waren die Beziehungen zwischen Nordkorea und dem Westen mal wieder an einem Tiefpunkt angelangt. Ein Jahr zuvor hatte der Herrscher Kim Jong-un seine Nation zur Atommacht erklärt. Nun ließ er die Muskeln spielen. Nach der unterirdischen Zündung einer Kernwaffe verschärfte der UN-Sicherheitsrat die Sanktionen gegen Nordkorea. (…)
2500 Kilometer reiste sie mit ihrem Vater und den Aufpassern durch das Land. „Ich wünschte, man könnte mit einem Rucksack einfach so herumreisen und eintauchen, aber die Restriktionen sind absoluter Bestandteil dieser Gesellschaft.“ Gespräche über Politik waren nicht möglich, aber immerhin konnte sie mit den Menschen über ihr persönliches Leben reden. „Ich habe versucht, dieses Land zu verstehen“, sagt Wielinga. „Und ich sah eine ganz andere Realität, als die Propaganda sie transportieren möchte.“ Mit einem Weitwinkelobjektiv fing sie die Landschaften und Alltagsszenen ein. Später, im Atelier, verglich sie die Bilder mit den gemalten Sozialismus-Idyllen der Staatskünstler. „Sie haben die Wirklichkeit in einen Traum verwandelt, und mich interessiert die Lücke dazwischen.“
Wielinga begann, die Propaganda-Motive mit ihren Fotografien zu kreuzen. Fotografie und Malerei verschmelzen so zu einem Bild, die Abgründe zwischen Realität und Fiktion geraten umso tiefer, je farbenfroher der Wunsch mit der graubraunen Wirklichkeit kontrastiert.
Abgestorbene Bäume, vertrocknete Wiesen und ein verlassener Rohbau stellen infrage, was die malerische Szene mit Landarbeitern, einem Traktor, grünen Wiesen und Bäumen behauptet. Dem Hafenbild samt Feuerwerk und glutrotem Sonnenball, das wie eine Karikatur der lichtdurchfluteten Gemälde William Turners daherkommt, schiebt sie rostige Fischerkähne in den Vordergrund. Mit denen ist kein Staat zu machen. (…)
Alice Wielinga hat mit den Collagen ihre eigene Handschrift entwickelt. Mehrere Jahre lang hatte sie sich mit Reportagefotografie beschäftigt. Doch wenn die Bilder dann in Magazinen erschienen, war sie oft vom Ergebnis enttäuscht. „Ich hatte immer das Gefühl, dass meine Gedanken zu den Bildern interessanter waren als die Bilder selbst.“
Sie wandte sich der künstlerischen Fotografie zu, stellte aber sehr schnell fest, dass sie „kein Mensch für das Studio“ ist. Also beschloss sie, die gestalterische Freiheit der Kunst mit der erzählerischen Kraft der Dokumentarfotografie zu kombinieren. „Die Nordkorea-Serie ist das erste Projekt, bei dem es mir auf perfekte Art gelungen ist“, sagt sie. Das sahen Fotografie-Experten genauso: Ihre Serie „Nordkorea – Ein Leben zwischen Propaganda und Wirklichkeit“ gewann gleich zwei bedeutende Fotopreise. Für ihr nächstes Projekt hat sie sich ein Terrain ausgesucht, das ähnlich schwer zu erkunden ist wie Nordkorea: einen Slum in Pakistan.”
We are very honored to announce that Alice won the first prize at the Fine Art Category of the Moscow International Foto Awards (MIFA) for her series North Korea, a Life between Propaganda and Reality.
About MIFA: MOSCOW INTERNATIONAL FOTO AWARDS conducts an annual competition for professional, non- professional, and student photographers on a global level, creating an ambitious and comprehensive competitions in the photography world. Photographers from all corners of the world are encouraged to enter their work.
It is MIFA’s mission to salute the achievements of the world’s finest photographers, to discover new and emerging talent, and to promote the appreciation of photography.
Today is the last day of the show North Korean Perspectives in the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago.
Alice has travelled to Chicago this summer to attend the opening. She was impressed by the beautiful presentation the museum created and the enthusiasm of the museum crew.
In the show works of 12 different international artists is included: Seung Woo Back, Pierre Bessard, Philippe Chancel, David Guttenfelder, Ari Hatsuzawa, Suntag Noh, João Rocha, Matjaž Tančič, Thomas van Houtryve, Marie Voignier, Hyounsang Yoo and Alice Wielinga.
About North Korean Perspectives as written in the MoCP program: “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea, has been called the Hermit Kingdom, as it is one of the most reclusive states in the world. North Korea’s citizens are not allowed to travel abroad, there is no Internet connection to the outside world, and the flow of information is almost completely controlled by the government. This exhibition will be divided into two main sections: one showing the government’s official version of North Korea, while the other offers the alternative view of the country. Imagery distributed through official channels, such as the country’s press agency KCNA, which is based in Japan, and those photographed by tourists on state-controlled tours will offer an official view. These official images will be juxtaposed with a non-controlled stream of images coming out of the country: photographs produced by international photojournalists from within the nation, and international artists using photography and video to directly address North Korea. North Korean Perspectives is organized by Europe-based independent curator Marc Prüst in collaboration with MoCP’s Executive Director Natasha Egan.”
After winning the first prize at the Photo Folio Review 2014, North Korea, a Life between Propaganda and Reality will be shown during the 2015 edition of the international renown photofestival Les Rencontres d’Arles.
As the winner of the Photo Folio Review 2014, Alice’s project will be shown in a soloshow at the Eglise Saint Blaise.
On North Korea, a Life between Propaganda and Reality:
April 2013. While the Western media follows Kim Jong-Un’s steps during his missile test launches, I travel 2,500 kilometres through the North Korean interior. Once arrived, the images I know from my advance research correspond with the scenes my guides proudly show me during their propaganda tour. But seeing these scenes with my own eyes, I gradually discover that behind everything they present to me, a different reality is hidden. While I listen to my guides talking about what invaluable contributions the greatly admired leaders made to their country, I drive through a landscape that looks haggard and desolate. During my journey I collect propaganda material and take photographs of the reality I encounter. This material is the basis for my multimedia project ‘North Korea, a Life between Propaganda and Reality’. With the found propaganda images and my own photographs I compose a story that deconstructs the North Korean propaganda.
The exhibition can be visited from July 6 till September 20 in Eglise Saint Blaise in Arles.
For more information, visit the festival’s website:
Les Rencontres d’Arles
Till August 30, the exhibition North Korean Perspectives will be shown at the Drents Museum in Assen, the Netherlands.
This show is programmed together with the show The Kim Utopia, which exhibits 120 paitings of North Korean artist. One of the first time North Korean art is exhibited on this scale in the west.
“A bridge between different perspectives on North Korea”
The show North Korean Perspectives serves as an interesting counterpart. What impression do we have of North Korea on the basis of the photographs that are available to us? That is the central question in this photo exhibition.
The approved photographs by the State press agency KCNA and photographers such as Philippe Chancel and Pierre Bessard are mirrored by those taken by international photo journalists working in North Korea, such as David Guttenfelder and Thomas Van Houtryve, as well as images by international artists like Alice Wielinga and Seung Woo Back, who present their views of North Korea in photographs, sometimes combined with other media.
In her series North Korea, a Life between Propaganda and Reality, Alice tries to create a bridge between different perspectives on North Korea, and therefore she is glad her work is programmed in the context of both exhibitions.
The NRC (Dutch newspaper) stated on her work shown at the Drents Museum: “Wielinga’s photoworks make North Korea even more surreal than it already is”.
North Korean Perspectives was compiled by the internationally renowned curator Marc Prüst and will also be shown at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, from July 23 till October 4, 2015.
On Jan 12 Alice gave a talk during De Donkere Kamer, a bimonthly live magazine with guests from various fields of photography.
During an interview by Edie Peters, Alice spoke about her work in North Korea, and her previous work which has led her to this project.
This 22nd edition of De Donkere Kamer said farewell to Lars Boering, the former head of the Dutch Photography federation who now starts his new job as the director of World Press Photo. Alice was proud to be choosen as one of the speakers at this special evening, amongst Marcel Christ and Erwin Olaf, in Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam.
This weekends issue of M Magazine, the supplement magazine of Le Monde, shows a portfolio item of North Korea, a Life between Propaganda and Reality.
In M Magazine, Alice gives a preview of her work which will be part of the upcoming edition of Les Rencontres d’Arles.
In a greatly written piece by François Bougon, Alice explains about her project and her fascination with this country. In North Korea, a Life between Propaganda and Reality Alice searches into different perception of reality about the most isolated country in the world.
On November 22 A Winter Tale opened at Museum het Grachtenhuis. The show will be held till February 8.
The 400 year celebration of the Amsterdam Canals in 2013 inspired Alice to create a series about her new hometown. Alice wondered what had changed throughout the past four centuries. In the Rijksmuseum Alice found the Canalbook (1768 – 1771) from Caspar Jacobsz. Philips, which depict the state of each canal house at that time. Hence this book was a perfect guide to learn about the changes since the golden century. Alice printed the pages of Philips’ book and walked alongside the canals for days. Then she went back to the places that caught her attention, took photographs of the current situation, and layered Caspar Philips’ drawing on top of it.
In the meanwhile Alice had created a personal library of figures throughout the art history of Amsterdam. Figures from paintings, etchings, drawing and old photographs from Amsterdam masters like Rembrandt, Romeyn de Hooghe and Jacob Olie. Putting these elements together, as pieces of a puzzle, she brought her fantasy to live and depicted how the canals changed and people had lived alongside the canals for centuries.
“The 400 year celebration of the Amsterdam Canals in 2013 inspired Alice to create a series about her new hometown.”
Emma van Oudheusden, director of the museum: “We are very pleased to have this show in our museum, because Alice has been able to capture the story we tell in our museum in a fantastical way.”
Website of Museum het Grachtenhuis