North Korea,2006, Cprint, 50x70cm, 15+V,002
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Image Transfers Pyongyang-Wien


Dr. Gerald Matt museum direktor Kunsthalle Wien

Our first encounter took place in the wood-paneled diner of the train from Beijing to Pyongyang: radiating youthful vigor, the Great Leader and the Dear Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea looked down on us who were on our way to the “last paradise on earth” out of their coupled gilt photo frames. Behind the border, they became omnipresent; there were all formats including monumental immortalizations in bronze or stone on Pyongyang’s equally monumental squares
In June 2006, I visited the Pyongyang International Cultural Center together with Luca Faccio, Barbara Pichler, the curator of the show, Rainer Dormels, professor of Korean studies, and Bettina Leidl, managing director of the Kunsthalle Wien. The occasion was the presentation of an exhibition of photographs by Luca Faccio which he had shot during his various stays in North Korea and which were shown together with pictures made by North Korean students during their study visits in Vienna. The show was opened by the President of the Korea-Austria Friendship Association since the project Image transfers Pyongyang/Vienna was the result of a cooperation venture with the North Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries.

Usually, such formal events provide a 1:1 reflection of the official self-image of this country “of which we have no clear idea,” as the Berliner Zeitung puts it – yet, this time was different: the artist and the curator had not only succeeded in initiating an intense discussion on the host country’s irrevocably defined concept of art but also in extending this concept considerably, as we see it. The exhibition included pictures regarded as “immaterial,” i.e. not compatible with the educational objectives of culture – and thus as “undesirable” – by the authorities. The photographs show people doing everyday things and not participating in lavishly staged official events in honor of the nation or its leaders. The persuasive was that the West had an idea of North Korea but did not know anything about its people.

That art can make politics visible apart from diplomacy and the media was what the initiators of the project Image transfers were interested in showing from the very start. It was not least this intention that convinced me of the quality of the approach.

The exhibition of the photo artist Luca Faccio’s works is accompanied by the presentation of Fiction Pyongyang – demolition S how, a video portrait of Pyongyang by Joseph Grima, Stefano Boeri, and Armin Linke, which, among other things, deals with the “call for ideas” regarding the functional redefinition of the gigantic Ryugyong Hotel concrete ruin – a utopian vision of a totalitarian deformation of modernity and its failure.

Image transfers Pyongyang/Vienna is also presented in parallel to a selection of artworks from South Korea in a group show titled Elastic Taboos, which, providing points of reference for comparison, explores the hybrid forms of expression in a society marked by contradictions and oscillating between a system of rules informed by Confucianism and turbo-capitalism.

My thanks for the realization of this “true pioneering feat” (Rainer Dormels) first of all extend to the artists and the curator for their commitment. I am equally indebted to the Embassy of the DPRK in Vienna, the authors contributing to this catalogue, Lucas Gehrmann for establishing the contact, the copy editors of the catalogue, our partners EIKON and HS Art Service, and – last, not least – the team of the Kunsthalle Wien

Special thanks to:

Rud Klein
, Thomas Seifert, Marco Ansaldo, Uni.Prof.Dr Rainer Dormels, Uni.Prof. Richard Trappl, Andrea Bertolini, Peter Kurz und Cyberlab team, Tom Grunert,Ri Song Uk, Kwon Myong Sin, Hwang Ji Myong, Kunsthalle Team


Kunsthalle wien

Uni.Prof.Dr Rainer Dormels

BMEIA Kultur Forum Beijing


IICV Vienna

Camera Austria


Die Presse

Die Presse Cultur

Die Presse Kunst

Art Port

Ursula Blickle video Archive Kunsthalle Wien

Exhibions image transfers kunsthallewien vienna 2007

exhibition image transfers Pyongyang 2006