North Korean Art Exhibit in Venice

Propaganda Art from North Korea is being displayed in Venice’s MAK  (Museum für angewandte Kunstmuseum).   The show is called Flowers for Kim Il Sung and was prepared in cooperation with NK’s government.

Of all the things one might think of when  North Korea is mentioned, I have to admit that art was very low on the list particularly given the current circumstances surrounding the country.  Interestingly, when North Korean art was brought up, I immediately formed an idea in my head of what it might look like and, yes, it was right on. 

Totalitarian kitsch, I believe it’s called, or, if you prefer, Social Realism.  Yes, everyone looks happy and well fed as I’m sure everybody in North Korea certainly would like to be is.

It is also interesting, to me at least, that the very idea of North Korean art cannot be considered apart from the political authority of the nation.  For this reason, it is difficult to even consider the artwork of this country as anything other than a statement of or a reaffirmation of the power structure that propagated the work.  Thus, the pieces rapidly disintegrate into a cliché  exhibiting genre similar to every other socialist state that has managed to secure power.  

I suspect that an authentic snapshot of the North Korean social milieu can only be found by analyzing the work of those artists and thinkers who work outside the imprimatur of the state.  I imagine that there are some who toil quietly, hoping, much like Solzhenitsyn, that someday their work will find the light of day.   Until that day, beaming faces, full tummies, and the “worker’s paradise” will be displayed with gusto.

The BBC reported the original story which can be found here–they also have a video report of the event:

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  • By List of Recent Posts « Musings on May 25, 2010 at 20:21

    […] North Korean Art Exhibit in Venice  By Stirling, on May 25, 2010 at 20:20, under Art. Tags:art, recent posts. No Comments Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « North Korean Art Exhibit in Venice […]

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