According to an article recently completed by The Guardian, a controversial exhibit has finally succeeded in opening at the British Council offices in London. The photography exhibit, completed by renowned photojournalist Nick Danziger, displays eighty one color photographs of a variety of subjects, from ordinary people engaging in everyday tasks, such as a trip to the beach or a day at the hair salon, to eerie commanding figures in uniform. The exhibit is entitled People and Places in the DPRK (North Korea) and will be available for visitation in the British Council in London until the twenty fifth of July.
The exhibit has struggled to make its way to the United Kingdom, particularly given the sensitivity of tensions and the relationship between North Korea and the west. From the start, Danziger struggled to get photos, often relying on his associate Andrea Rose—head of visual arts at the British Council, to distract the minders from their disagreements on how the process should be brought about. However, once the obstacles were removed, Danziger was pleasantly surprised the ease with which he communicated with his potential subjects. He found that no one refused to speak to him, and that many even spoke English. While no attempts were made to censor his photographs of his choice of subjects, he did note that several potential people did look a bit uncomfortable; when this became an issue, Danziger simply moved on, without a picture. Every image involving any form of text—including banners, posters and even a small notice in the background of a shot taken at a hair salon—was translated and checked in both South Korea and North Korea.
The issues truly started once the exhibition was in transit towards the west. The architects of the project had hoped to bring a Korean farm worker, fisherman, hairdresser and a student with them to the west, where they would attend a workshop as means of training to recreate the exhibit. However, the guests were not granted permits to travel from their own countries and the plan was, therefore, defeated. This very nearly destroyed the chances of displaying the exhibit. However, Graham Sheffield, the British Council’s director of the arts, insured its success and continues to push to communicate with Japan, China and many other national locales in the hopes of carrying the exhibit to further places in the future.