The Mansudae Overseas Projects is a Pyongyang-based art factory run by the North Korean government and it's building huge statues for African countries
Do you need an absolutely enormous statue of yourself built at an affordable price? If so, then the best place to go might be the Mansudae Overseas Projects, a North Korean government-run art and construction company that's currently doing a great business building statues for African and Asian countries - as it stands they've built 18.
The company's HQ is the Mansudae Art Studio, based in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital. It's a studio that reaches over 30 acres and employs up to 4,000 people, mostly graduates of Pyongyang University or other established academies – only the best of the best are allowed to create state art. It is here that all artworks of the Kims are made and the country's modern socialist realism is created.
But it's abroad where the studio rakes in its profits. In 2006, Mansudae began building a statue for the then president of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade. The African Renaissance Monument was intended to represent the country's emergence from a legacy of slavery and colonialism and celebrate 50 years of Senegal's independence from France. Unfortunately, Wade was too skint to foot the bill of $27million so paid North Korea in state-owned land.
The angular trajectory of the statue's position and the sheer size of it obviously owes a lot to the Soviet influence on North Korean artists. When the statue came to be unveiled, Wade was mired in corruption scandals and wasn't exactly the most popular man in Senegal, so its existence is somewhat tainted by the memory of a man who had to flee in 2012 on account of being so heavily disliked.
The African Renaissance Monument still stands today, overlooking an area of desolation, unfinished houses and unrealised potential. It without doubt looks like a location in need of a severe renaissance.
The studio is certainly prolific and appears to have forged excellent relations with African countries, having built monuments in Angola, Namibia, Botswana and Benin amongst others. Should you need an enormous statue of yourself put in the garden, it looks like it might be far cheaper to outsource the work to Pyongyang.