I took my grandsons to see the newly opened Independence Memorial Museum yesterday and came away with mixed feelings.
I was impressed by the archival photographs which document the colonial era and the succession of uprisings and wars through the ‘German’ and ‘South African’ periods of rule. The process of appeals to the U.N. and the eventual Independence Elections were also well documented and took me back 24 years to a time when my husband was seconded to the north of Namibia as a ‘Presiding Officer’ at a rural polling station.
My disappointment was that the many murals, reliefs and sculptures were the work of the Mansudae Art Studio in North Korea. Namibia has talented artists and it would have been appropriate, I think, to showcase this talent and promote local artists.
The North Korean ‘art factory’ employs some 4000 people and 1000 artists. Much of the work they produce seems to be lifted from what I would call propaganda art (think old Soviet Bloc, Chinese and of course North Korean, etc.)
The new Namibia seeks to forge both identity and legitimacy as it moves away from its colonial past. The North Korean ‘style’ of monumental buildings and art works are certainly far removed from the old colonial styles and designs but make little, if any, connection with Namibia.
Having said that, I recommend a visit to the museum. There is a well-documented history of Namibia’s road to independence along with some very good archival material.
I include a couple of complimentary shots as an illustration to my notes.
For more information about the Mansudae Art Studio see : http://www.vice.com/read/behind-mansudae-the-most-prominent-art-institution-in-north-korea
For a fascinating Masters of Art dissertation entitled Postcolonial Architecture Through North Korean Modes: Namibian Commissions of the Mansudae Overseas Project by Meghan Laurel Elizabeth Kirkwood see: http://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/dspace/bitstream/1808/10702/1/Kirkwood_ku_0099M_11463_DATA_1.pdf
Here is a larger version
This photograph is copyright of Rosemary Walden - © Rosemary Walden 2014. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of the image in any form is prohibited. You may not, except with my express written permission, copy, reproduce, download, distribute or exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system
Critiques | Translate
snunney (82487) 2014-04-01 6:55
A colourful and interesting collage captured here under a good light. Ideally exposed and with excellent colours and clarity. It is a bit strange they were commissioned in North Korea. Are there political and other economic ties between the two countries?
dkmurphys (48446) 2014-04-01 7:46
Very attractive collage of figures and scenes from the history. I like it, well taken.
tyro (20012) 2014-04-01 8:42
This is a delightful photograph, very well composed and taken and full of wonderful vibrant colours. Very sharp and clear too considering that the light would not have been that great. On that note, your exposure values in your exif data appear at variance with what is stated in the little box on the right - your data say this was taken at f/3.5 at 1/2 second which, to me, seems somewhat unlikely.
Anyway, you have given us a very thoughtful note and I quite agree that it would seem less than appropriate that much of the artwork here came out of North Korea. That central relief artwork in your picture would appear to typify the attitude of North Korea with the aggressive stance of the two soldiers - quite unlike the obliquely placed painting of groups of happy Africans on the right.
An interesting note and a fine photograph too - and a very appropriate upload for TE.
Romano46 (17436) 2014-04-01 9:13
hai fatto bene a portare i tuoi nipoti a visitare questo nuovo museo anche perchè l'indipendenza è un valore talmente importante che è bene tenere sempre nella massima evidenza per non correre il rischio di perderla.
Hai ragione nel dire che è un fatto strano l'aver fatto rappresentare l'indipendenza della Namibia ad un gruppo di artisti nordcoreani anche perchè ci sono in loro culture ben diverse dalla vostra.
Nello stesso rilievo della foto mi sembra infatti di notare l'influsso dei regimi comunisti nel modo di presentare soldati armati che esultano. Probabilmente artisti della Namibia avrebbero proposto ben altro tema e con altri colori.
In ogni caso eccellente la foto che riente il fotogramma di spezzoni di vita della tua nazione di residenza.
Ciao, grazie e buona serata
ktanska (24618) 2014-04-01 12:51
That is very colourful and kind of transmits the joy of independence of a young independent country. And then there is the connection to North Korea that is certainly puzzling. And has effect on the art style too. I know that China and on some countries Taiwan want to reach bigger influence on many countries, economically and politically. But North Korea has no economic power, so is this just a symptom of them wanting to be in friendly connections with at least one country?
holmertz (40049) 2014-04-01 13:51
Well, the North Koreans certainly know how to use a lot of paint. I wouldn't call this my favourite kind of art but it is probably not much worse than in most other similar museums. It's just seems so absurd to bring artists from another corner of the world to do this. Maybe I have mentioned this before, but the only postcards I could find in Harare in 1984 showed Metro stations and public monuments in Pyongyang.
carlo62 (31324) 2014-04-01 14:48
un pomeriggio con i nipoti ben speso, sia per la loro vicinanza, sia per ciò che avete visto.
Concordo parzialmente con te sulla provenienza delle opere d'arte, probabilmente non è questo il caso, ma nella storia di ogni nazione ci sono opere d'arte fatte da artisti di altri paesi, spesso perchè molto bravi, ma anche perchè le loro creazioni sono molto più "distaccate" dai sentimenti patriottici.
rogerl (1544) 2014-04-01 17:59
Rosemary, an interesting note. I seem to recall your posting another North Korean monument in Namibia last year, a very stark and "monumental" shot. Is there a large North Korean influence in Namibia, and are there good relations between the countries? This is an interesting mural. What a riot of color! I like the right side much more than the left --- I could do without the soldiers with guns, and the militaristic blue inset top left. But a nice capture, with good saturation, of an interesting mural. Thanks.
fabbs99 (16163) 2014-04-01 20:39
Nice colorful composition of the the Independence Memorial Museum in Windhoek.Very well composed photo with excellent vivid colors. TFS.
jjcordier (75590) 2014-04-01 23:03
Une découverte intéressante de ce mémorial; On peut effectivement être légitimement étonné de voir que les œuvres aient été confiées à des nord-coréens!
RhodieIke (11740) 2014-04-01 23:08
I like your very colourful post of this art work to commemorate your Independence.
It has been done with a lot of thought and I love the fact we can see all walks of life in this country.
krzychu30 (15496) 2014-04-02 0:12
I must say I was really surprised to read your note about the North Korean artists factory).Especially in such place touching on such important aspect of history of Namibia it must be quite "strange" feeling to see works created thousend miles away by artists,who don´t even know about Namibian history or even better they don´t even know where the country is.
But for someone from outside like me the collage looks really interesting(also because its vivid color scheme it attracts immediately our attention).
Have a nice day
timecapturer (47952) 2014-04-02 3:01
despite the controversy these murals are certainly colourful and powerful! It is a shame that they have been imported so to speak. I like them all the same, despite the "propaganda" links. You have captured them perfectly, with so much clarity and detail to look at.
Regards - B.
mirosu (13340) 2014-04-02 5:52
Excellent colourful, well composed detail photo in perfect light, very good clarity. The well-chosen tight crop eliminates all unwanted distractions.
Very well done.
dekanski (3002) 2014-04-02 8:58
thenks for the photo and note, very informative and useful. Not very creative, but it could not even expect.
Have a nice evening.
chrislo (4153) 2014-04-02 14:14
What a stunning fresco and incredible picture ! Fine capture of this colourful artwork here, you've chosen a good area of the wall to photograph, and did a nice job reframing this section. The use of different supports and material, and the way the works have been displayed in a dynamic fashion, in a collage composition really makes it stand out. As seen in this shot, there's a lot of detail to watch and the intensity of the message is very well expressed throughout the vivid and appealing colours as well as people's expressions so aptly captured. A fantastic mural that tells a story in and of itself. Well done.
jemaflor (83651) 2014-04-02 23:14
Nice composition well made by the artist, tfs this Memorial, good colors and sharpness for your photo.
williewhistler (13729) 2014-04-03 8:30
my knowledge of Namibia`s history is sketchy to say the least,however it seems to me that the saying of absolute power corrupting absolutely rings true throughout the whole world.Not least nearer home..
Your nicely composed shot has many interesting features that seem to have aroused some debate,a perfect upload for TE I`d say.
Kindest regards Les.
annjackman (19189) 2014-04-12 4:06
This is a very well crafted picture with the vertical panel very nicely placed. The colours, sharpness etc. are excellent. I also find the North Korean connection strange but I am glad that many aspects of the museum were enjoyable. Do you realise that yor WS pictures are cropped when opened, probably because you didn't upload at the old 800 sizing?
Lovely work and a particularly interesting note.
Kind Regards, Ann
Noel_Byrne (23252) 2014-04-13 3:57
a beautiful shot, alive with so much life, color and representation. Like you I would be very surprised to see art in your country outsourced to Korea, that seems mad to me! Every country has amazing artists and it makes no sense to have not chosen local craft. Is this perhaps for budget reasons? Whatever the reason it's very strange. Still though, you have ceased a very evocative image from this with so much detail to entertain the eye and the mind. Thanks for a beautiful image and a fascinating note
jmdias (54499) 2014-04-26 1:56
I suppose you live in this capital city.haha.
unfortunately when we arrived here we had only one hour (at sunday) to run away like crazy people by the central area of the town and I lost time trying a call phone to home in a public phone. anyway I did my best and the city is really very beautiful. while there I remember the stupid words of a former Brazilian president when visit it (this doesn't look like Africa..).
I wanted to visit the museum in the fort (fest ?)but I didn't have time. I guess this museum is located in another building.
Very nice collage of art here. after your note I could recognize the style of communist art. even this way is beautiful to see people of Namibia smiling here. I now something about the sad history of the colonial period and I wanted to see the images in exposition. anyway nice to post this image.
serp2000 (39526) 2014-05-27 0:05
We have got similar art works of the Soviet patriotic times. I do remember our red socialist & communist propaganda too. But I have never read about the North Korean influence to Namibia, but the guns, truck and tank are the Soviet aid to Namibian rebels ;)
Thanks for so interesting post.
Best wishes from Russia!
- Copyright: Rosemary Walden (SnapRJW) (30909)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2014-03-31
- Categories: Ceremony, Architecture, Artwork
- Exposure: f/3.5, 1/40 seconds
- More Photo Info: view
- Photo Version: Original Version, Workshop
- Date Submitted: 2014-04-01 6:43