On the ground tens of thousands of gymnasts coordinate their rapid movements to build moving figures of great geometric simplicity and beauty. In the steps tens of thousands of spectators or children wave colored cards, constituting in turn the various visual symbols of the North Korean regime.
These people do not have an individual existence. In terms of chemistry they are the atoms of a single material. In terms of prints they are the dots of the image. In the Arirang videos it is impossible to discern a specific feature of a dancer, neither in gesture nor in costume. There is no visible leader in their perfect choreography.
In 2007 Andreas Gursky attends the opening ceremony of Arirang. His technique of reconstructing a global image from photographs successively focused on the various distances offers a total and undistorted sharpness from foreground to background.
Gursky executed five opus on Arirang. Among them Pyongyang II is a diptych showing a military movement with in the background the symbol of birds on one view and of a gun on the other. One of these diptychs was sold for £ 830K including premium by Christie's on February 14, 2012.
Pyongyang I, III, IV and V are single views on gymnastic figures or mass effects. A Pyongyang IV 304 x 205 cm was sold for £ 1.33M including premium by Sotheby's on October 15, 2010. A Pyongyang V 307 x 219 cm was sold for £ 1.08M including premium on June 30, 2014 also by Sotheby's.
Pyongyang III is the only single panoramic view, 206 x 422 cm. In a phase when the background is inactive, it offers a composition in horizontal stripes that from afar looks like the masterpiece of the artist, the Rhein II of 1999. A copy is estimated $ 600K for sale by Christie's in New York on March 1, lot 271.