POPULAR TODAY ART

human billboard paintings at north korea mass games
oct 21, 2011
human billboard paintings at north korea mass games


the ‘mass games’ opening north korea’s arirang festival
all photographs © werner kranwetvogel

historically developed alongside 19th century nationalist movements, ‘mass games’ or ‘mass gymnastics’ are group performance
events involving the synchronized motion of thousands of performers, often in which performers collectively create large images
in a human mosaic delineated by the colour of their dress or the holding up of coloured cards.

among the world’s mass games, those opening the arirang festival in the north korea are the largest and most impressive.
the two-month cultural festival celebrates the birth of kim II sung and opens with a ‘mass games’ that sees 30,000
schoolchildren serve as the changing backdrop to performances including dance, flag-waving, and music.

the images are created by the combined effect of each person raising the appropriately coloured pages in a book of printed sheets,
at the appropriate time. many of the pictures carry rich symbolism in colours and form, including of course that of the rising sun,
which classically symbolizes kim II sung. individuals are selected for participation in the festival as early as age five,
in effectively full-time work that continues for much of their lives.

german film director and photographer werner kranwetvogel attended the festival in 2005, taking the photographs seen here,
which are published in the photo book ‘a night in pyongyang‘ and as photographic prints.


footage of the warmup of the ‘backdrop’ (0:12 – 0:54) as well as performances


view of the ‘backdrops’, composed of 20,000 to 30,000 youth holding up coloured papers


another ‘backdrop’


mountains symbolize the birthplace of kim II sung


the elaborate synchronized movements serve as the backdrops to the festival’s performances


a performance in progress


performers on the ground


traditional dancers on the ground


view of the ‘backdrop’ performers in between images

comments policy
LOG IN VIA
login with designboom
designboom's comment policy guidelines
generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

- please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
- please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
- please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
- please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
- please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
(there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
the best 100-200 entries too.)

a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.

product library