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BG Muhn on Contemporary North Korean Art

Professor BG Muhn at his September 9 lecture at The Art League

We had a great turnout for the most recent lecture in our Visiting Artist Series! BG Muhn, painter and art professor at Georgetown, spoke at The Art League September 9, sharing his research on contemporary art and artists in North Korea.

We followed up with a few questions afterward, and here are BG’s responses:

Is there an art “underground” in North Korea?
BG Muhn: No, I doubt it. The concept of “underground” is what the people in a liberal society would hope to happen in North Korea. It’s a romantic idea that we anticipate, but yet to come.

Do fine crafts, such as ceramics and fiber, have an equally revered role with painting and sculpture?
All art forms are considered important and all art is VERY active in production; however, fine art such as painting in oil or Chosonhwa is more valued. Hand embroidery is not widely practiced in America, but it is a cherished, traditional art form in North Korea. I’ve seen a Mona Lisa done in embroidery and it looked so fabulously attractive.

Did you have a “minder” and could you have any private conservations with the artists?
Although I had some moments when I could have engaged in a private conversation with an artist, I did not try. I know the system well, and didn’t want anyone to get in trouble.

There appears to be an amazing amount of collaborative artwork. What lessons did you take from your time with these artists? Have they increased you own interest in collaborative artwork?
I thought it would be really wonderful if I can do a collaborative project here. It would be perfect for gigantic wall murals. Imagine that several professional artists work together on a street wall!

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