Relentless grey apartment blocks, windswept ceremonial squares, and parades of missiles—this is the grim image of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, that most of us have from western media. But the surprising reality is a pastel-colored city dotted with curious sci-fi structures and interiors composed with the surreal quality of Wes Anderson movie sets.

Journalist and photographer Oliver Wainwright travelled to North Korea in 2015 and took a series of startling photographs that provide a glimpse behind the closed doors of the most secretive country in the world. From the palatial reading rooms of the Grand People’s Study House, to the locker rooms of the recently renovated May Day Stadium, his images convey the eerie sense of the city as a stage set, where architecture is used as a powerful ideological tool.

How to View

During the day, the installment can be viewed on monitors inside the ICP Museum and during evening hours, images are literally “projected” onto the windows of the ICP Museum; they can be viewed from the sidewalk outside the Museum and are most visible after sunset. Learn more about Projected.

About the Artist

Oliver Wainwright (b. 1984) is a writer and photographer based in London, UK. He has been the architecture and design critic of The Guardian since 2012. He trained as an architect worked for a number of practices, including OMA in Rotterdam and Muf in London, as well in strategic urban planning for the Mayor of London's Architecture and Urbanism Unit. His writing and photography has been published and exhibited widely, including shows in London, Moscow, Seoul, and Hong Kong. His first book, Inside North Korea, was published by Taschen in 2018.


Image: © Oliver Wainwright