Model City: Pyongyang

A unique photographic journey through the socialist architecture and grand visions of DPRK’s capital

Architect and architectural photographer Cristiano Bianchi first visited Pyongyang in 2015 with his fellow architect Kristina Drapić on the Koryo Tours architectural tour. Increasingly intrigued by such an unknown subject, the pair returned several more times with the support of Koryo Studio and the Korea Cities Foundation (KCF). Their work was published by Thames and Hudson in 2019 ‘Model City, Pyongyang’. Koryo Studio have a limited edition available of Cristiano’s stunning photographs for sale to collectors. Reflecting a culture that has carefully crafted its own narrative, the backdrop of each photograph has been replaced with a colour gradient, evoking the idealized pastel skies of the country’s propaganda posters.

 

Many foreigners visiting Pyongyang for the first time find it difficult to get to grips with both the built environment and how society interacts with it. They arrive to find a city that is part theatre, part reality, and completely alien to their own experience of urban life. I wanted to capture this feeling of ‘fictional reality’ by following the techniques used by Korean artists when depicting the supreme leaders or sacred places. We were fascinated by the striking way in which the sky is represented in art and propaganda – sometimes a simple gradient of colours; some- times a hyper-saturated sunset or sunrise. In homage to this, our photographs combine classic architectural views of buildings with skies represented by gradients of pastel colours. The contrast between the two halves creates a visual alienation, where the real becomes unreal and the unreal becomes real. Fact is fiction; fiction becomes fact.

Cristiano Bianchi, architect and architectural photographer

In recent years, many of Pyongyang’s buildings have been redeveloped to remove interior features or to render facades unrecognizable. From the city’s monumental axes to its symbolic sports halls and experimental housing concepts, these photographs provide a comprehensive visual access to Pyongyang’s restricted buildings, which still preserve the DPRK’s original vision for a city designed ‘for the people’. Often kitsch, colourful and dramatic, Pyongyang’s architecture can be reminiscent of the aesthetic of a Wes Anderson film, where it is difficult to distinguish between reality and theatre.

Cristiano Bianchi is an architect, and the founder of Studio ZAG, with offices in Tuscany and Beijing. His recent work in architectural photography focused on the social and urban transformation occurring in Asia. He lives and works in Italy and China.

Limited Edition Prints for 500 EUR

Pyongyang Station
Pyongyang Station
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT054
Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT051
Mirae Scientists Street

Mirae Scientists Street
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT047

Achievements of Socialism

Achievements of Socialism
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT040

Ryugyong Hotel
Ryugyong Hotel
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT048
A mass dance in Kim Il Sung Square

A mass dance in Kim Il Sung Square
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT045

3G1A1383-Edit

Untitled
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT052

Ryomyong Street

Ryomyong Street
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT053

Sungni Station
Sungni Station
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT042
May Day Stadium

May Day Stadium
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT049

Chollima Street

Chollima Street
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT050

Ponghwa Street
Ponghwa Street
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT057
Ryugyong Hotel

Ryugyong Hotel
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT058

Mansu Hill Grand Monument

Mansu Hill Grand Monument
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT041

Pyongyang Ice Rink
Pyongyang Ice Rink
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT059
Electronics Industry Hall

Electronics Industry Hall
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT055

Tongil Street

Tongil Street
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT060

Kim Il Sung Square
Kim Il Sung Square
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT043
Torch Parade Rehersal

Untitled
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT046

Central Youth Hall

Central Youth Hall
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT044

Kaeson Cinema
Kaeson Cinema
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT061
Kim Il Sung Square

Kim Il Sung Square
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT056

Ponghwa Street

Ponghwa Street
Size: 50 x 50 cm
ID: PT057

For sale after October 2020 exhibition please contact us for details. All photographs are printed on archival paper.

Further Commissioned Works

Great Harvest of the Sea
Great Harvest of the Sea
Ship and port themed linocuts by artist Hwang In Jae
Read more.
Higher and Higher
‘Starting Work’ series
Limited edition linocuts exhibited at Verbeelde Werkelijkheid: Kunst uit Noord-Korea’
Read more.
Single Hearted Unity Cover
Single Hearted Unity
Hand painted propaganda posters depicting political and social messages
Read more.
The Grand Tour: D.P.R.Korea
6A hugely ambitious project - Magnum photographer Carl De Keyzer on a 60 night tour
Read more.