Nicolas Righetti - The Last Paradise
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- New, introduction by Orville Schell
- Hardback, 128 pp
- Published by Umbrage Editions, New York, 2003
The Last Paradise offers a rare and tantalizing glimpse into the surreal landscape and psyche of the world's only communist dynasty, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Secretive, paranoid, and unrepentantly militant, North Korea has incubated its own peculiar mix of communist utopianism and personality cult.
Nicolas Righetti is one of the few Western artists invited to photograph North Korean society. Righetti's images feature a bright urban landscape dotted with paper flowers, curvaceous neo-constructivist architecture, and synchronized folk dancing. The telltale signs of the poverty and repression of the North Korean regime remain embedded in the absurd juxtaposition of details: huge guns hidden in the traditional landscape wall paintings; looming, inescapable portraits of the late Great Leader and his son; empty shelves at the Paradise Food Shop; Big Brother exhortations proclaiming nirvana achievable through 'iron discipline'.