Jeremy Hunter’s work will form the main body of High Resolution and will tell the story of ARIRANG, North Korea’s iconic annual mass games, through a series of giant propaganda photographs.
ARIRANG is at the heart of North Korean culture and has been staged in the world’s largest stadium in Pyongyang for the last ten years. The opening ceremony involves 150000 performers, 50000 of which are teenagers armed with flipcharts containing more than 170 unique pages. These coloured pages fit together to form colossal mosaic images that change seamlessly during the two-hour performance.
Using only a compact camera – Hunter was banned from taking a superior model into the country – the photographs of the famous mosaic pictures were taken on a trip to North Korea in 2010 and feature military iconography, the Workers’ Party of Korea, Kim Jong-Sung (‘the eternal leader’), and Kim Jong-II (‘the dear leader’).
During his 30 year career as a foreign correspondent and photo journalist, Hunter developed a particular interest in documenting rituals, ceremonies and festivals and has captured some of the most important mass-gatherings of modern times, including the grand summons of the Labuleng monastery in Tibet and the festival of the goddess Amman in Kuala Lumpur.
With the death of Kim Jong-II last December and future of the festival left uncertain, Hunter’s work is ‘the most important record of propaganda art of modern times’ and has been cast into ‘the realms of historic documentation’, according to Ben Burdett, the owner and curator of Atlas.
High Resolution is at the Atlas Gallery, 49 Dorset Street, London, W1U from 16 January – 16 February 2013.