North Korean authorities seem to have scripted an elaborate
production, with every aspect of a visitor’s experience inside the
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) carefully choreographed.
Last June, I was asked to exhibit my North Korea reportage series, ‘All The World’s A Stage’, at the Auckland Festival of Photography. The event organizers also generously extended an invitation for me to travel to New Zealand to personally present my work, join panel discussions and participate in portfolio reviews at the Auckland Art Gallery during the opening weekend celebrations.
It was a wonderful privilege to share my work and my love of visual storytelling with other respected photographers, curators, attendees and festival staff and volunteers from New Zealand and around the world. Indeed, one of the wonderful consequences of attending, and participating in, photography festivals is meeting and getting to know talented, passionate, like-minded individuals.
One such group that I had the pleasure of meeting was the organizers of Australia’s Head On Photo Festival, who had traveled from Sydney to Auckland for the festival’s opening weekend. I ended up spending the evening with the Head On crew, talking about photography, travel and adventure, and getting to know them and their experiences. I also learned about their annual event, which happens to be Australia’s largest international photography festival, featuring exhibitions, workshops and talks presented by dozens of Australian and international photographers.
I stayed in touch with the team from Head On and, when they issued the Open Call for their 2018 edition, I submitted some of my photojournalism from North Korea for consideration. I am excited to share that a series of my DPRK documentary imagery was selected for exhibition on the Head On Screens at the Festival Hub from May 5-20, 2018.
This particular installation required that I provide a short film of my photography to be displayed on video screens. I chose to add a soundtrack to my presentation and found on YouTube composer Geoffrey Heisecke’s version of ‘Where Are You, Dear General?’, the haunting morning chorus that rouses awake the citizens of Pyongyang every morning from 6am.