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  • From: 14 oktober 2017
  • Through: 07 januari 2018
  • Location: Museum de Fundatie

Jan Banning - RED UTOPIA

After the fall of the Berlin wall and the breakup of the Soviet Union, communism seems to have drowned in history's well of forgetfulness. With his Red Utopia series, photographer Jan Banning documents (from our perspective) various corners of the globe where this half-forgotten ideology - which had such an impact on the 20th century - is still alive and thriving. The photo series will be on view in Museum De Fundatie in Zwolle from 14 October 2017.

Italy, Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC), Circolo Giudecca, Venice.
Italy, Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC), Circolo Giudecca, Venice.

Jan Banning (1954) searched out locations in five countries (India, Italy, Nepal, Portugal and Russia) where the communist flame still flickers and in some places even burns brightly. In towns and (sometimes remote) villages he documented with his camera the interiors of various communist party offices with their often ‘wealth’ of iconography: red flags, banners, portraits of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin and Mao, and of national party leaders and ideologists. Banning also on occasion photographed the local party activists. From behind desks they stare into the camera with dutiful concentration. Banning's photographs stand out with their careful composition and use of light.

Nepal, the CPN-UML party office (Marxist-Leninist), Nepalganj (CPN-UML became the second largest party in the 2013 elections, winning 175 of the 575 seats)
Nepal, the CPN-UML party office (Marxist-Leninist), Nepalganj (CPN-UML became the second largest party in the 2013 elections, winning 175 of the 575 seats).

Jan Banning has received international acclaim and recognition for his photo series of often sensitive subjects from the recent past, including the so called 'comfort women' from World War 2; the Bureaucratics series about the world of bureaucracy; and more recently the Law&Order series imaging crime and punishment in four countries. Banning translates complex themes in his work such as state power, rights and injustice and the consequences of war into powerful images. Although all his photo series concern larger political or sociological issues, it is people who play the key role in the narrative.

(Header image: Office of “Emiliano Zapata” of the Partito Rifondazione Comunista (PRC) in Acerra (Italy), with party member Maria (2016).


  • From: 14 Oct 2017
  • Through: 07 Jan 2018
  • Location: Museum de Fundatie