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Kimsooja – Korea’s Unifying Artist

For over 30 years, conceptual and performance artist Kimsooja (김수자) has used her artwork to voice delicate political and cultural issues, especially that of the displacement of immigrants.

Not limiting herself to conventional art styles, Kimsooja uses film, photography, sculptures and performances to examine humanity and the world we live in – creating artwork that eclipses reality and beckons audiences to question their existence.

©Kimsooja To Breathe, 25.04.2018, centrepompidou-metz.fr


This month, we were grateful to experience Kimsooja’s
To Breathe – Zone of Nowhere exhibition, which displayed rows of colourful, spliced national flags that expressed the artist’s wish for coexistence and peace – for a society where humanity can unite together, relieving themselves of prejudice and political ranks.

 

©Zone of Nowhere, 25.04.2018, inspiremekorea

 

“My work has always been a response to violence and inhumanity and this will never change. I answer by means of healing, either by showing society’s reality as a witness or by proposing a harmonious coexistence, questioning who we are and where we’re going.” – Kimsooja

 

Hailing from Daegu, a city known for it’s fashion and textile industry, Kimsooja’s most iconic, and notable, works involve Bottari (보따리) – bundles of Korean bed covers that are used to carry personal belongings when travelling from home.

©Kimsooja Sewing into walking 1994-1998 (still), installation with used clothing, bedcovers, three channel video, three monitors and projection edition 1/2 dimensions variable, State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Purchased 1998


Kimsooja first incorporated bottari into her art in the 1990’s, when she filmed herself collecting sheets of clothing from a forest floor. This piece, entitled
Sewing into walking, reflected Kimsooja’s interest in fabric – the way it shelters people, holds their personal memories and how there are not only physical, but emotional and spiritual dimensions to garments.

 

©Kimsooja Sewing into walking 1994-1998 (still), installation with used clothing, bedcovers, three channel video, three monitors and projection edition 1/2 dimensions variable, State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Purchased 1998


Her later work,
Bottari Truck – Migrateurs, showed the artist being driven, on-top of a truck laden with bottari, through the streets of Paris. This video was filmed in a district that became a home to immigrants from North Africa, Asia and Southern Europe, and payed homage to the Sans Papiers movement of the mid 90’s.

We were truly mesmerised by Kimsooja’s work and what it represented, and we hope others can view her art and reflect on her message of peace, unity and love.

“I hope people find…peace in my work that comes from their own empathy.”
Kimsooja

 

Feature Image Source: ©Kimsooja “Bottari Truck”, 25.04.2018, inspiremekorea

Claudia Deborah (이보라)

Local book dealer by day - goblin writer by night. Always looking for ways to include obscure SHINee references in my articles.

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