Photographer Eddo Hartmann presents the North Korean capital as a backdrop, its residents as extra’s. Followed by the screening of Comrade Kim Goes Flying, an unstoppably cheerful romantic comedy made in North Korea.
Photographer Eddo Hartmann talks to EYE on Art programmer Anna Abrahams about his experiences in North Korea, based on a short film he shot in Pyongyang, photographs from North Korean film studios and fragments from North Korean films.
An exhibition with new work by Hartmann opened in Huis Marseille in Amsterdam on 9 December. Setting the Stage: Pyongyang, North Korea features a series of photographs documenting the efforts to shape the ultimate socialist city and the life of its residents.
Eddo Hartmann: “Within the collective character of North Korea, the individual is just a pixel. I looked specifically for that pixel and its significance in the city.”
Eddo Hartmann (The Hague, 1973) studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. His work has been added to several Dutch photo collections and received a number of awards, including the Association of Photographers and PANL awards. His compelling Here lives my home (2012), a photobook based on his personal history, will also be discussed this evening.
Comrade Kim Goes Flying
The discussion is followed by the screening of Comrade Kim Goes Flying, an unstoppably cheerful romantic comedy made in North Korea. The Belgian filmmaker Anja Daelemans had the wild plan to shoot a film in North Korea, which she also realized with the help of a local producer.
A North Korean coal miner has dreams of becoming a trapeze artist, even though she suffers from vertigo and is mocked by her colleagues. Comrade Kim Goes Flying was shot as a feel-good film for North Koreans, though the makers also brought a pioneering feminist perspective to the film. The role of the sassy, assertive heroine was a novelty in North Korean cinema.
The girl power exhibited by a young woman who follows her dreams against all odds, turns Comrade Kim Goes Flying into something more than a beautifully designed fairy tale. Although the film was sanctioned by the Communist Party, the obligatory praises for party and state are absent. The filmmakers thus not only managed to surprise and entertain, but also cut through taboos with a dose of good humour.