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The Birthplace of the Revolution

Date: 2005
Support: Photography
Dimensions: 125 x 100 cm
From the series “DPRK”.

Photojournalist and art photographer, he has successfully proven in the last twenty years that mixing genres is always fruitful. He began photographing authoritarian societies with a focus on communist dictatorships. In 1981, he was the first photographer to arrive in General Jaruzelsky’s Poland. In a more personal project, he publishes in 2005 Regard d’artistes (Thames & Hudson), a compilation of contemporary artists’ portraits. His stylistically neutral front views have established a documentary aesthetic that is also a formidable device for stripping away pretence and posturing.

Philippe Chancel’s photographic odyssey took him to North Korea, a near-impenetrable country shrouded in secrecy. The images he brought back are both groundbreaking and fascinating, free of emotion and thus from the usual political commentary. The infinitely precise, impartial, and head-on style of Philippe Chancel’s photography reveals a reality in which every last detail has been carefully staged under the totalitarian regime of Kim Jong-Il.


Chancel’s work on North Korea, the DPRK series, was discovered by Raymond Depardon and first shown at the Rencontres d’Arles, and then at the Paris Photo exhibition before being compiled and published in 2006.

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