Liberator for the Oppressed, or a Useful Tool for the Dictatorship? Analyzing Controversial Art Projects in North Korea, in Light of Goffman

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Malfrid Irene HAGEN, Østfold University College, Norway
In his descriptions on performance and reality, Erwin Goffman (1959) describes two kinds of extremes, sincerity and cynism. Here I discuss a Norwegian artist`s controversial art projects in North Korea, and analyze how the projects are debated in the media in light of Goffman. The Arts Council Norway supports the projects economically with a great amount of money, and in particular, I look at how the artist and the Arts Council defend the project in the media, in order to legitimize the costs and make the art project that appear unethical to many people, appear ethical. The projects involve North Korean performers and audience, including youths and children, and the artist claims that the projects are for the best of the North Korean participants. However, many of his statements to the media reveal another attitude to the projects, which is also in accordance with the theory of Goffman.