Edition of 1000
260 x 180 mm
The Blow Up series is made from photographs that Back took in Pyongyang in 2001. While shooting in Pyongyang, he was under constant surveillance and the locations he was allowed to photograph were tightly restricted. Moreover, at the conclusion of his visit, all of his films were censored, cut up or confiscated, so that the only photographs he was allowed to take out of the country were similar in appearance to the kinds of photographs of Pyongyang already shown in the media. A few years later, Back discovered details in the photographs that he had not noticed at the time of shooting. As the title “Blow Up” suggests, he decided to enlarge those details sometimes dozens of times. As the original photographs were taken with 35mm film, the enlargements become slightly blurry, and yet in these slightly indistinct images we can get a sense of a reality that is very different to the image of Pyongyang propagated by North Korea around the world as an ideal city. The act of focusing in on a small detail in an image is akin to discovering a completely new perspective on that image. Through the process of “blowing up” his photos, Back has successfully made the surreal world of North Korea a little more real. The second series, Utopia, is based on propaganda photographs taken by the North Korean authorities in the 1970s. Back made the buildings depicted in the photos higher and added a bridge between buildings in one photograph to create the landscape of a new city, a genuine Utopia. In these works, Back uses careful manipulation to make Pyongyang a city that he says “looked like a film set for ‘The Truman Show’” even more surreal.
About the Artist
Seung Woo Back (b. 1973, Daejon) is a Korean photographer and contemporary artist. Based in Seoul, he was the recipient of the 2016 Korea Artist Prize. He has shown internationally and is represented by the Misa Shin Gallery.
About the Publisher
Since its foundation in 2007, Iann has organised a variety of projects ranging from the publication of the contemporary art photography magazine to curating exhibitions, publishing books, and running educational programs.
(source not available online)