“Korean Dreams” Nathalie Daoust

October 8, 2017 10:00 pm Published by

From November 18th through December 23rd, 2017. Opening Saturday November 18th 5pm-7pm.
The Canadian photographer Nathalie Daoust, born in 1977, explores secrets and taboos, balancing on the thin line between reality and fantasy. For her newest project “Korean Dreams”, she travelled to North Korea, capturing scenes of one of the world’s most secretive societies. Many of her photographs are candid and were taken using a remote trigger to avoid detection.

“Korean Dreams”, is a complex series that probes the unsettling vacuity of North Korea. Piercing its veil with her lens, these images reveal a country that seems to exist outside of time, as a carefully choreographed mirage. Daoust has spent much of her career exploring the chimeric world of fantasy: the hidden desires and urges that compel people to dream, to dress up, to move beyond the bounds of convention and to escape from reality. With Korean Dreams she is exploring this escapist impulse not as an individual choice, but as a way of life forced upon an entire nation.

Daoust deliberately obscures her photographs during the development stage, as the layers of film are peeled off, the images are stifled until the facts becomes ‘lost’ in the process and a sense of detachment from reality is revealed. This darkroom method mimics the way information is transferred in North Korea – the photographs, as the North Korea people, are both manipulated until the underlying truth is all but a blur. The resultant pictures speak to North Korean society, of missing information and truth concealed.

The opening of Korean Dreams will take place on Saturday, November 18th 2017, at Gallery WM from 17:00-19:00 hrs. The artist, Nathalie Daoust, will be present at the opening.

School Girl

De Canadese fotograaf Nathalie Daoust, geboren in 1977, verkent geheimen en taboes op de dunne lijn tussen realiteit en fantasie. Voor haar nieuwste project “Korean Dreams” reisde ze naar Noord-Korea, waarbij ze scènes van een van de meest geheimzinnige samenlevingen van de wereld vast heeft kunnen leggen. Veel van haar foto’s zijn openhartig en werden genomen met behulp van een externe cameraknop om detectie te voorkomen.

Fotograaf Nathalie Daoust’s nieuwste project, Korean Dreams, is een complexe serie die de verontrustende vacuümachtige leegte van Noord-Korea probeert te doorgronden. Trachtend deze sluier middels haar lens te doorbreken, onthullen haar beelden een land dat buiten de tijd lijkt te bestaan, als een zorgvuldig gechoreografeerde mirage. Daoust heeft een groot deel van haar carrière besteed aan het verkennen van schimmige fantasiewerelden: de verborgen verlangens en dringende krachten die mensen dwingen om te dromen, zich te verkleden, de grenzen van conventie en realiteit te ontsnappen. Met Koreaanse Dromen verkent ze deze escapistische impulsen. Niet als een individuele keuze, maar als een opgelegde en gedwongen manier van leven van een heel volk.
Daoust verdoezelt en verbergt haar foto’s opzettelijk tijdens het ontwikkelen, door de lagen film één voor één te strippen, worden de beelden vervaagd totdat ‘feiten’ verloren gaan en een gevoel van losraken van de realiteit wordt opgeroepen. Deze doka-methode toont gelijkenissen met de manier waarop informatie wordt verspreid en overgedragen in Noord-Korea. De foto’s, zoals ook de Noord-Koreanen, worden gemanipuleerd totdat de onderliggende waarheid aan totale vervaging en versluiering onderhevig is. De resulterende foto’s weerspiegelen de Noord-Koreaanse samenleving, een maatschappij van ontbrekende informatie en verborgen waarheid.
– Samantha Small –

De opening van Korean Dreams vindt plaats op zaterdag 18 november in Gallery WM van 17-19 uur. De kunstenaar, Nathalie Daoust, zal aanwezig zijn op de opening.

 

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Interview with Nathalie Daoust (in Planet 9)
In her series Korean Dreams (2016) photographer Nathalie Daoust (*1977, Montreal, Canada) inquires the enigmatic world of North Korea. Her images reveal a country that exists isolated from the rest of the world. Within her photographic process she reflects the fabrication of truth in this seemingly perfect social system.

Why did you travel to North Korea with your camera?

I was working on a project on North Korean women living in hiding in China. To understand it better I traveled to North Korea to see what they were running away from. After many months of research on North Korea, I decided to create works spreading more awareness about what is happening there.

Under what circumstances were you able to photograph there?

It is very difficult to enter North Korea as a journalist or a photographer, so I decided to enter it as a tourist. The people who helped me get there said it would be risky for me, since there had been some articles published online about my project in China with the North Korean women. It took around six months to have all the information removed from the Internet, and then I was able to travel without any problems. Once I was in North Korea I was allowed to take photographs in the tourist area. When I was in places where photography was forbidden, I was able to take photos with a hidden cable release. That is why many of my photos are taken from waist height.

What do your photographs show?

Emptiness. That was the first impression I had of North Korea. The streets, highways, and even most tourist places we visited were empty. There was a feeling of isolation and a gap between truth and fiction. If you look closely, sometimes parts of the images are sharp (little moments of truth), but most of them are fuzzy.

Why did you choose a technique that obscures the photograph, which is usually seen as objective and true?

I was inspired to use this technique because“truth” in North Korea is largely fictional. Hence, I wanted to convey what is really happening in a country that suppresses information and conceals reality. The method, called image peeling, deletes elements of the picture through repeated cycles of peeling and reprinting it. Thus it mimics the regime’s carefully regulated transfer of information, which stifles the truth until the underlying facts are all but a blur. Consequently the photographs are as manipulated as the North Korean people whom they portray.

credit: Kunsthalle Darmstadt for Planet 9 (May 3 – August 27, 2017)