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Past exhibitions

Matjaž Tančič: 3DPRK. Portraits from Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

By 19. 5. 2015 April 15th, 2019 No Comments

Matjaž Tančič
Portraits from Democratic People's Republic of Korea

2.07.2015 – 22.08.2015
20.00

BOOK SIGNING of the latest book by Matjaž Tančič TIMEKEEPERS before the opening, between 6 and 8pm 3D portraits from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This project is a series of more than 100 portraits of the North Korean citizens of all ages, social status and occupations.

Matjaž Tančič
Portraits from Democratic People's Republic of Korea

You are kindly invited to the opening of the exhibition on Thurdsay, 2 July 2015, at 8pm

BOOK SIGNING of the latest book by Matjaž Tančič TIMEKEEPERS before the opening, between 6 and 8pm

Matjaž Tančič, born in Ljubljana, now living in Beijing, studied photography and graduated at University of the Arts in London. The 32 years old photographer, who was the winner of the World Photography Organization awards for the 3D category in 2013, is exhibiting his latest 3D project »3DPRK. Portraits from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea«. This project is a series of more than 100 portraits of the North Korean citizens of all ages, social status and occupations. The author reveals us a parade of the North Korean people in a contemporary agitprop manner. »They’re the people whom the world ignores because they neither fit into the domestic propaganda of a mighty and triumphant North Korea, nor into the international image of a country that can only be either castigated for its crimes or mocked for its poverty. Leaving this dichotomy entirely, the author seeks to present the actual people he met in North Korea.«

The photographic project was made possible by Koryo Studio.

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“I was born in Yugoslavia, a formerly communist country that no longer exists. The first time I ever traveled abroad by myself was to Cuba, and after that I traveled around Russia. I’ve now lived in China for the last three years and my most recent photo project was shot in North Korea. Most people know these countries almost entirely as clichés. We only picture the people there as those on the wrong end of the rifle in Hollywood movies, or through short distillations of suffering and aggression in the back of newspapers. The further away the country is, in terms of both geography and culture, the greater the mistrust and misunderstanding of its people. The media’s focus on the misdeeds and atrocities committed by North Korea’s also ends up entirely obscuring the actual people who live there, until the only North Koreans we see in the newspapers are identical marching soldiers. When I was invited to do a photographic project in North Korea by the Koryo Studio, which works on cultural exchanges, I knew I didn’t want to tell the same story you see on every television channel.

Portrayals of North Korea tend to veer into extremes: either sensationalistic demonization on one side, or ungrounded idealization and staging on the other. Both portrayals erase the actual human beings who live there. Instead of this, I wanted to build a project focusing on the group that forms the core of every society – people. People of different ages, statuses and occupations that anyone, anywhere could identify with. It seemed simple, but it quickly became clear why there aren’t many similar projects around.

With every posed portrait there is a need to build trust through an exchange between photographer and subject. Despite common mistrust and the language barrier, we managed to build that necessary bridge between us. The help of a translator and even interested onlookers allowed me to somewhat bypass the more commonly experienced relationship between Western photographers in North Korea and the photographed, typified by a lack of direct interaction or explanations of purpose.

Among the more than 100 portraits captured while traveling around the county, there is a boxing champion learning to ice skate, an art student painting in the forest, a worker in an iconic steel complex and an international worker with the Red Cross. They’re the people whom the world ignores because they neither fit into the domestic propaganda of a mighty and triumphant North Korea, nor into the international image of a country that can only be either castigated for its crimes or mocked for its poverty. Leaving this dichotomy entirely, all I seek to do is present the actual people I met in North Korea.”

Matjaž Tančič

Matjaž Tančič

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