Back Through the Iron Curtain – DPRK: North Korea in Colour, The Extended Series by Dave Kulesza

Words by James Lyall Smith
Photography by Dave Kulesza
Back Through The Iron Curtain–dprk North Korea In Colour The Extended Series By Dave Kulesza Melbourne Vic Australia Image 03

A year on from the launch of the original ‘DPRK: North Korea in Colour’ series, Melbourne-based photographer Dave Kulesza transports us once again on a journey through the iron curtain with his extended series exhibition.

Back in 2019, following three years of planning, contemplating and dreaming, Dave Kulesza travelled from Australia to one of the world’s most secretive societies, with the goal of capturing the architecture of the North Korean capital Pyongyang through the lens of his camera. What ensued was the release of a successful photographic series, a two-week exhibition and a companion publication that surpassed all of Dave’s expectations. “Exceeding expectations is certainly an understatement when referring to how well the images have been received and how this journey has progressed,” he says. “The lead up to the opening night launch was possibly more nerve racking than entering North Korea. It was an intimidating prospect that nobody would show up, but fortunately a great show of support and interest flowed through the doors from the moment they opened. It was an incredible experience speaking to people throughout the course of the exhibition and sharing the experiences of my visit.”

“Fenton & Fenton have been a long-time supporter of myself and took on the series immediately as a stockist after my original exhibition concluded.”

Premiering on the 5th of December 2020 and running until 14th of that month at the Fenton & Fenton showroom in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Prahran, the extended series is designed by Dave as a “seamless extension of the original series.” Speaking specifically to images present in the extended series, Dave states, “as the new images were all taken during the same visit in 2019, it was an easy process of making the new complement the old. There is, however, a small diversion in style on a small selection of images in this series. Looking over the images with fresh eyes has allowed me to appreciate this playful style in a bit more depth.”

“It seemed fitting to produce a similar body of work on a significant date which gave me a mild sense of closure to complete the 2019 visit.”

At the core of both photographic series and Dave’s journey to North Korea, is his intrinsic curiosity for a country hidden from the world’s eyes for so long. When asked on his goals for the extended series, Dave responds in characteristically enthusiastic fashion. “Aspirations for the new series is to continue showcasing a unique perspective, further exploring my fascination and intrigue for the aesthetically pleasing moments around a place shrouded by mystery. I hope that viewers can continue to appreciate the design driven approach to my imagery and discover some beauty through an open mind. I’m extremely excited to showcase these new prints in various sizes at the exhibition and can’t wait to see them all hanging together for the first time.”

“The success of the original series certainly influenced the continuation into the new series.”

Despite the extended series premiering to a world drastically altered to the one that first bore witness to the original exhibition, Dave is still confident he will once again have the opportunity to travel to North Korea and potentially continue to chronical this fascinating journey. “I would absolutely love to create a 2.0 series,” says Dave. “My fascination with North Korea only grows stronger by the day and there are still so many locations left to explore. The series has always been a huge passion project and I feel like I can take it even further and certainly continue building on it.”

‘DPRK: North Korea in Colour’, the extended series, will run from the 5 – 14 December 2020, at the Fenton & Fenton showroom, 471 High Street Prahran. For more information see