Kim Sooja's A Needle Woman Nakamura Keiji
Participation Artist's
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Artist's Talk

May 26 (Friday) - June 18 (Sunday), 2000 [Finished] Gallery D


KIM Sooja might well be called the most active Korean artist at work today. In the past few years she has had solo shows in Europe and America as well as Japan and has taken part in many major international exhibits and group shows. Last year her works were shown at the Venice and Brisbane Biennales; she also had a two-person show in the suburbs of Graz, Austria, almost concurrently with a solo show at the CCA Kitakyushu. This year her work is presently on display at the Kwangju Biennale, and she also has a solo show at the Rodin Gallery in Seoul.

At a very early stage of her career she made collage-like works using traditional Korean textiles and cloth; in the course of time she began using traditional bed covers. She also created performance pieces with bed covers, making huge bundles (bottari), draping them over tables in museum cafeterias (at the Setagaya Art Museum and elsewhere), or covering herself in layer upon layer of cloth. Bed covers are a symbol of human life, from birth through growth, rest, and sex, and ultimately death.

Although Kim's bottari installations are well known, in parallel with them she has also been making videos recently. In one, for example, she stands absolutely motionless, her back to the camera, in the crowded streets of Shibuya. All sorts of people pass by, some in a hurry, others ambling along with nothing better to do, yet not one single person pays attention to her. At times she disappears, swallowed up in the surging crowd; at other times she appears motionless and majestic amid the streams of people who pass by. Her dark clothes and long hair make a striking and dynamic contrast with the motley colors around her.

Another video was shot in Shanghai using the same method. Here the movements of the passersby are somewhat slower, and it is interesting to see how many people stop and stare at her with frank and unabashed curiosity. Here too, however, she is completely motionless. The streets are different, the atmosphere is different, but the artist always exists as a dark-clad back that eventually fuses in with everyone else. In other videos she confronts with drifting clouds or a vast river in India.

These performance videos are the artist's pursuit of an identity as "A Needle Woman" who attempts to sew a non-existent self into the fabric of society, the environment and other people. Thus, the videos and the installations that use cloth are all linked to the same conceptual world.

In the present exhibit, six videos -- including a new work that has never been shown before -- will fill the room. Viewers will no doubt be able to immerse themselves in a space conducive to meditation and contemplation.