New Open Society Institute Photography Exhibit at the School of Social Work

North Korea is perhaps the most closed society in the world. Rare portraits taken in the country offer a window that enables us to experience the life of North Koreans. Filled with flags, murals, slogans, monuments, statues, portraits glorifying the party and its leaders, North Korea is a perfect depiction of how the leadership’s pervasive misuse of power and depth of narcissism manifests itself in everyday life. The beautiful and striking images enhance and construct an even bigger picture—absolute control.
In a new photo exhibit at the Columbia University School of Social Work entitled “North Korea – The Narcissism of Power,” photographer Philippe Chancel shows how the political has been transfigured into a breathtaking and all encompassing regime that controls every detail of life in that country. All elements of his portraits, as stated by him, “slot naturally into place as if everything has been rehearsed.”
The exhibit is part of the Open Society Institute's "Moving Walls" series. The exhibit is located on the fourth floor of the School of Social Work building (1255 Amsterdam Avenue) and is open to the public Monday through Friday from 10:00am-3:00pm. For more information about the exhibition, please contact Jeannie Hii at 212-851-2327 or, or visit
About the Photographer
Philippe Chancel was introduced to photography at a very young age. After studying economics and photojournalism, he opted for photography in 1981 when he was 22. Since then, his photography has explored the complex, shifting and fertile territory where art, documentaries and journalism meet. His work has been widely exhibited and published in France and abroad in a number of prestigious publications. He now works for cultural institutions, publishing houses, and magazines like Connaissance des Arts. A Paris resident, Chancel has exhibited and published in France and abroad, including his “Souvenirs” series with Valérie Weill. “DPRK,” his exhibit about North Korea, was shown at the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival and published in 2006. He was shortlisted for the Deutsche Bôrse photography prize in 2007.


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