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Dream makers: The Mansudae Art Studio commissions in their local and global contexts

Sketch for ceramic tile mosiac ‘Workteam contest ‘2009

Kim Hung IL | North Korea (DPRK) b.1965 | Kang Yong Sam | North Korea (DPRK) b.1956 | Sketch for ceramic tile mosiac Work team contest2009 | Glass tile, paper and board | 350 x 570cm | Commissioned for APT6 and the Queensland Art Gallery Collection with assistance from Nicholas Bonner, Beijing | Purchased 2009. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

 Kim Hung IL Kang Yong Sam Work team contest 2009 (in progress)

Kim Hung IL | North Korea (DPRK) b.1965 | Kang Yong Sam | North Korea (DPRK) b.1956 | Work team contest 2009 (in progress) | Glass tile, paper and board | 350 x 570cm | Commissioned for APT6 and the Queensland Art Gallery Collection with assistance from Nicholas Bonner, Beijing | Purchased 2009. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation Grant | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

(continued)

I think APT is one project that cannot help but highlight the multi-directional patterns of cross-appropriation that disrupt the settled boundaries of national belonging, whether this is manifested in the rhythms of Pacific reggae or in the contemporary works of artists working in the Mansudae Art Studio in North Korea.

It is in this spirit that the APT curatorial team embarked on a conversation with artists from the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang, North Korea.

We worked with Beijing-based curator Nicholas Bonner, whose long-term relationships and contacts in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) provided a pathway to begin a dialogue with a group of artists from a country notorious for being heavily veiled and governed by a regime that controls and scrutinises the lives of its people in a manner unfamiliar to most of us.

So why look at contemporary art in the DPRK?  

Firstly, in Nicholas Bonner’s involvement we had a unique opportunity to work with a co-curator with strong ties to artists in the DPRK. During the period 2005 and 2006, Nicholas came to understand the Gallery’s aims and interests, and we began to discuss the APT6 project with him, and — through him — with Mr Pak Hyo Sung and other artists.  

Secondly, we needed to determine our own expectations about this material. It became clear during those first two years that those of us from the outside often comply with the viewpoints in circulation because we are unable to find a way to look deeper into a situation. However, leading up to APT6, the relationships between co-curator, artists and the Gallery developed to the degree that we all felt confident that something could, and should, be attempted.

Thirdly, and importantly, the work we were seeing was compelling. It ranged from Nicholas’s extensive personal collection, dating from the 1950s to the present, to the proposals and sketches coming in from the studio artists.

Lastly, the realisation of this project could only be undertaken once trust was established amongst all parties concerned...Next

Dream makers: The Mansudae Art Studio commissions in their local and global contexts (page 1) | (page 2) | (page 3) | (page 4) | (page 5) | (page 6) | Artist quotes | Endnotes