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Subway Attendant, Pyongyang, North Korea, 2007.

Subway Attendant, Pyongyang, North Korea, 2007.


from the photographer... "The idea that "life imitates art" takes on a whole new meaning in North Korea, where the only art on public display is government-approved propaganda. That's why I remain fascinated by the interplay between the metro attendant and the peasant farmer that she mirrors in the mosaic on the station wall. I visited North Korea twice, and both times it felt like I had landed on another planet—a place where every rule shy of the law of gravity had been remolded to the tastes of the ruling Kim dynasty."

Tomas van Houtryve is a photographer, artist and author who engages critical contemporary issues around the world. Initially a student in philosophy, Tomas developed a passion for photography while enrolled in an overseas university program in Nepal. Immediately after graduation in 1999, he devoted himself fully to photojournalism, starting out with the Associated Press in Latin America. He was the first AP photographer to cover the military prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in 2002 he traveled to Kandahar to photograph families of the Guantánamo inmates.

Tomas left AP in 2003 to concentrate on large-scale personal projects, starting with the Maoist rebellion in Nepal. The resulting photos of the rebels’ rise to power earned wide recognition including the Visa pour l’Image-Perpignan Young Photographer Award and the Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents.

In 2006 Tomas was named one of PDN’s 30 Emerging Photographers. He was awarded an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship in 2008, and in 2010 he was named the POYi Photographer of the Year.

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