Norwegian armed forces museum, 2010

The Norwegian Armed Forces Museum’s own Artist-in-Residence, Morten Traavik, has visited North Korea repeatedly over the last two years. In April this year, he made a tentative agreement with North Korean authorities to develop a series of independent art projects in the years ahead, based on his impressions from North Korean society and culture. The new exhibition ROCK STEADY NORTH KOREA! draws inspiration both from North Korean propaganda aesthetics and Western rock’n’roll iconography and points to possible similarities between two seemingly opposing ideologies.

The artist’s staging himself as a touring rock musician in a country still at war with the USA can even be taken as a playful stab at prejudices and preconceptions about different cultures and cultural exports. The photographs are taken in different North Korean venues that all carry heavy symbolic significance in a Cold War context, such as the DMZ, Joint Security Area/Panmunjom Border Village, The Reunification Monument and Kim Il Sung Square in the capital Pyongyang.