“Since the cease-fire agreement between North Korea and the USA of 1953, over 60 years have passed which have definitively split Korea, torn families apart, and severed the cultural ties.
“Today we know of one thing in particular which the countries have in common: the border along 38 degrees latitude”, says the Vienna-based photographic artist Luca Faccio, who has made six visits to North Korea since 2005. During these visits he has frequently been able to capture uncensored private images and moments outside of the officially-permitted shots of monuments and orchestrated productions: of people on the underground, out walking, or during the parades, in close-up portrait both inside and outside the spatial representation.
Faccio’s insights behind and aside of the official image North Korea has of itself, have led him to pose the question: what could remain of the centuries-old cultural history of Korea in both the north and the south, following the country’s violent split. Behind the façades that divide the countries – socialist-military Chuch’e-propaganda here and growth-ideology there, – can similarities that form some kind of “common ground” between the two nations be found? In 2013 Luca Faccio travelled with his photographic and video camera to South Korea in pursuit of this question.
In his exhibition and the accompanying book Common Ground, he displays images of cities and countryside from both Koreas as well as portraits of their inhabitants, whereby it is often not evident to the viewer where the photograph was taken.
When displayed side-by-side or consecutively, we can observe a series of images of people who portray only themselves.”Generally I position the people as unprejudiced as possible in the centre of the image, and most importantly allow the surroundings to speak for themselves”, says Luca Faccio of his work, which he intends not only for the world of “beautiful Arts” but also that it reach that place that has provided the source of his images: the people of the world.
“Consequently in my work both as a photographic artist and as a press photographer, my purpose and objective is to bring press photography and photographic art down to a common denominator, as far as is possible.”
As a result the photographic and film project Common Ground does not reflect any romanticism that believes in a feasible, short-term reunification of Korea. “Likewise I do not want to provide the observer with answers to those social and political questions which I have posed myself in the background, but rather to open up a space within which one can reflect upon the various aspects which may be touched upon in the images. A pinch of irony can be found here and there.”
The exhibition includes around 100 photographs and several videos taken between 2005 and 2013.” (the text was fully taken from artist’s website)