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German film director and photographer Werner Kranwetvogel has released a photo book celebrating the human billboards of North Korea’s Mass Games. Deriving from 19th century nationalist movements, the Mass Games or Mass Gymnastics are large group performance events involving the synchronized movement of up to tens of thousands of participants. Often they work together to collectively display large images by the perfectly timed raising of single colored pages from a book of printed sheets. These human mosaics traditionally celebrate strong nationalist themes and symbolism of their country’s leaders. Performances are a serious art, often involving participants who are selected as early as the age of five and continue full-time for much of their lives. Kranwetvogels photo series for the German art gallery Lumas depicts one of these festivals in 2009 and a consequent collection of images that are beautiful, rich in color, and moving, to say the least. In 2005 he released a first series of pictures in his book “A Night in Pyongyang”, which can be found here.
All pictures © Werner Kranwetvogel, backgrounds Courtesy Lumas