Sensational photos of North Korea’s mass games

andreas-gursky-pyongyang-I1
Andreas Gursky – Pyongyang I, 2007, c-print, 307 x 215,5cm
© Andreas Gursky / VG Bild-Kunst. Courtesy: Monika Sprüth / Philomene Magers

Renowned for his large-format colour photographs charting themes of globalised society at work and play, Andreas Gursky’s production employs the digital technology to capture and refine an astounding compilation of detail on an epic scale. The perspective in many of Gursky’s photographs is drawn from an elevated vantage point. This position enables the viewer to encounter scenes, encompassing both centre and periphery, which are ordinarily beyond reach.

For the Pyongyang series (2007), Gursky travelled to the Arirang Festival, held annually in North Korea in honour of the late Communist leader Kim Il Sung. The festival’s mass games include more than 50,000 participants performing tightly choreographed acrobatics, against a backdrop of 30,000 schoolchildren holding coloured flip-cards that produce an ever-changing mosaic of patterns and images. Gursky’s photographs describe, in panoramic dimensions, the incongruity of the brilliant colours and smiling faces of the performers within the controlled, totalitarian nature of the event.

Andreas Gursky was born in Leipzig and lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany. Since the 1980s he has exhibited extensively, including major solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, MCA Chicago and SF MOMA, San Francisco.

Andreas Gursky - Pyongyang II, Diptychon, 2007
Andreas Gursky – Pyongyang II, Diptychon, 2007, c-print, 207 x 258,7cm each
© Andreas Gursky / VG Bild-Kunst. Courtesy: Monika Sprüth / Philomene Magers

Andreas Gursky - Pyongyang II, Diptychon, 2007
Andreas Gursky – Pyongyang II, Diptychon, 2007, c-print, 207 x 258,7cm each
© Andreas Gursky / VG Bild-Kunst. Courtesy: Monika Sprüth / Philomene Magers

Andreas Gursky - Pyongyang III, 2007
Andreas Gursky – Pyongyang III, 2007, c-print, 221,8 x 453,7cm
© Andreas Gursky / VG Bild-Kunst. Courtesy: Monika Sprüth / Philomene Magers

Andreas Gursky - Pyongyang IV, 2007
Andreas Gursky – Pyongyang IV, 2007, c-print, 304.5 x 207 cm
© Andreas Gursky / VG Bild-Kunst. Courtesy: Monika Sprüth / Philomene Magers

Andreas Gursky - Pyongyang IV, 2007
Andreas Gursky – Pyongyang IV, 2007, c-print, 304.5 x 207 cm, Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Los Angeles
© Andreas Gursky/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Andreas Gursky - Pyongyang V, 2007
Andreas Gursky – Pyongyang V, 2007, c-print
© Andreas Gursky / VG Bild-Kunst. Courtesy: Monika Sprüth / Philomene Magers

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Installation view by Wilfried Petzi

Andreas Gursky portrait - Photo Jan Schmidt-Garre
Andreas Gursky portrait at the Arirang Mass Games, Pyongyang, North Korea, 2007
Photo: Jan Schmidt-Garre

Photos by Andreas Gursky. Courtesy of Monika Sprüth / Philomene Magers

 

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