There are many places in this world where, if you have the funds, you will not have difficulty accessing the earth’s vast cultures.
But there are those that are (even) more difficult to reach in our ever-splintering globe following the U.S. November elections. One such place that is enshrouded in mystery is North Korea.
For the small price of a few gallons of petro, you can get to the De Pree Art Center and Gallery at Hope College and peak into this mysterious nation via the visually arresting photographic works of artist Tom Wagner, who made several trips to North Korea from 1995 to 2004.
“No Motherland Without You” is Wagner’s homage to the popular North Korean song that is also considered an Ode to Kim Jong-il, (the father of the current Kim, North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un).
“An interesting element of revisiting this work in the present, for me, is seeing how little North Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, has changed, and how the stories, the news, the headlines now are the same as they were during each of my trips,” says Wagner.
The images exhibit the politics of fear, surveillance and a divine, unquestioned leader who determines facts and truth to fit a preferred nationalist narrative, looking at the architecture and people of the place.
And this is unlike any other photo-based show we’ve seen locally in a while, as these images are large prints with four-by-eight-feet rear-illuminated duratrans printed locally at 40 Visuals of Spring Lake.
This exhibition also includes a massive 55-inch touchscreen display for easy navigation to other works, as well as a projector show.
Be sure to go quickly: the opportunity to look inside the headlines about North Korea will only be available until Thursday, Mar. 16.