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Soonim Kim

Soonim Kim, OCI Museum of Art


1975, Punggi of Sobeck Mountain, South-Korea


Installation, Photography, Media



Oyster Land 2017, 2017

Oyster shell, cotton thread, wire, Variable size

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“Form of Life” Presented as Art

I. Wittgenstein said about form of life” in his book,Philosophical Investigations (Philosophische Untersuchungen). However, it is difficult for us to know what he means. That is because he doesn't use this concept by defining it clearly. Defining a form of life is difficult, nevertheless we could say that life is not a transcendental form, but a certain cultural form that weaved together like a net in human life. As widely known, Wittgenstein's philosophy is about language. In Philosophical Investigations, he said, “Imagining a language means that we imagine any form of life.” He also said, “People match up with each other in a language. This is not an agreement on opinions, but a consistency in a form of life." Although he mentioned the "language", even if the word "language" is changed into the word "art", I think it is still relevant. That is because imagining art means that we imagine a form of life. The agreements gained in art is not simply prescribed agreement, but the agreements as a form of life that a community makes, searches, and opens in the process of producing and enjoying art. When I carefully look into Kim Soon-im's works as a hole, I am reminded of form of life in the special context again. It was not by chance at all. In the form of life represented through Kim Soon-im's work, we can perceive the remarkable aesthetic features from the material choice to the subject. I want briefly to mention the features in this article.


II. Her work, recently installed in the building of the Incheon Art Platform is the work that shows form of life. That is because at a single glance, we can grasp her artistic attempt to represent the people's daily lives who led the life in the sea, that is, another land for them. I heard that the production process is not so easy for her, but at first glance, from the formative point of view, her work was surprisingly ordinary. I felt that the material and subject were connected excessively and the formative tension didn't properly implement in the utilization of objet. On catching a glimpse of the works from her earlier to later ones, we can figure out intuitively that she is much sensitive to the formative sense. And yet, in this installation work, she intentionally weakens the sensitive elements, and then she focuses on presenting form of life. Looking at the work again, suddenly it reminds me of such fundamental questions as: ‘What do you expect of installation art? What really matters is how life can be expressed into an artistic form. As Nietzsche emphasized that life is art and art is life at the same time in his middle and latter period of developing his thoughts, we can easily find such an equation.


III. Kim Soon-im started her career from the field of sculpture, but until now, she has tried various works not tied to specific genre or type, such as painting, sculpture, photo, image, performance, installation. So, what is the key point in her works across various genres and extended in various ways? It is her difficult pursuit of the aesthetics as form of life. It is more obvious in her environmental art developed in various ways for the past few years. Art is situated at the original place of potential, that is, the co-existence between human and nature. Her work shows this through art as an extended play.


IV. In her works, thread is used a lot as work materials. In fact, the thread plays rather a mediating role that makes the relation possible than its own existence. The thread links up one memory with another memory, and in a sense, it triggers reminiscence. It seems that she has a compulsive idea that if without the thread, all the world would be dispersed. If so, do we think the thread as a metaphor of desire for relationship? It's hard to think so. A piece of thread is actually made with the slender threads of different strands twisted and overlapped. Therefore, the thread, in fact, simply is not a formative indicator that orders, or implies the relation. In other words, the thread is the aesthetic device that leads the form of life not into a fixed form, but into a formative tension.


V. In her works, stone also appears frequently. The artist also records the stone collected in nature. In this situation, the stone becomes the elemental art material showing symbolically the relation between nature and culture. What's interesting is that she doesn't present any narrative through the stone hung by a thread or the stone on the floor. She named it as . But in fact, the stone doesn't fly, and the stone can't become the artist, namely, 'me', either. The stone itself is the manifestation of meaning. We can translate the work that ties the stone to a string and adds a feather on the stone into the attempt that shows a double meaning of stone. Nevertheless, prior to an artistic practice, it first turns out to be just a stone. What appears in front of us is not the name of the stone, but the stone itself.


VI. Judging from what I have mentioned so far, you could mistake Kim Soon-im for the artist who does very abstract and conceptual work. But she really isn't such an artist. Rather, she is true to the fundamental and solid formativeness. Merely because she is more interested in leading the formativeness into form of life, her works look very different from the work that constructed sensuously. Her several works directly or indirectly shows the experiences gained when she stayed in many residencies around the world. What matters is that her life experience is not motivated by the curiosity about the unfamiliar things, but her attempt to extend another phase of life into art. The journey to get there, not here. It is her desire and struggling to experience more extended art aesthetically. But, eventually, what remains is useless, or vain traces. All those that have passed and left return to her workroom.


VII. She works as an octopus spreads its arms. In fact, when an artist makes one kind or another work, going after his or her heart, this situation is a huge burden for the artist, too. It is difficult for her to exhibit all the earmarks of her style. Nevertheless, she appears not to be greatly bothered with that as if her art is the work that makes her look around, search, record, and think. On this account, maybe I want to call him as an artist who implements form of life. It is not everything to present a refining power in a formative way. She always asks about why she has to do the work in the name of art, and she always reproduces the various aspects of life in the subtle, delicate ways, most of all, with the aesthetics of tension. She will not stop experimenting these attempts as long as she will not stop her work.


VIII. It is not easy for an artist to make art in the form that can be read in the social context. That is because art is subjective, and starts from the artist's personal sense. Nevertheless, as the aesthetics of Kant clearly emphasizes, art, within its subjectivity, can't go past the universality-not defined conceptually, but open artistically from the reflective point of view-that can be communicated with people socially and culturally. In other words, the most subjective art cannot turn its back on form of life that co-exists in the society. I want to sum up the core in the aesthetics of Wittgenstein and Kant that mentioned at the very beginning of this article as follows. Art is a play representing form of life that exists as a tension between subjectivity and universality. I didn't fully consider the formative feature of her works. Because these features are fully explained in the two work book published by her! What I really want to say is that her work is a play represented in this form of life. The artist who plays a beautiful game in this way will certainly be happy.

Lim Seong-hoon (aesthetics, art critic)


Likely to be Gentle and Warm

Inspired by nature, Kim Soon-im was previously involved in a process of labor. She made a bed with leaves floating down a river, set a place where one can stay in a forest, portrayed flying stones by suspending stones with cotton thread, or transformed a venue into a grove. In this way she has meditated on encounters and relations between nature and man as well as environment and man, and has forged some attitudes anchored in her own experience.


Her recent exhibition is a representation of object and space by putting, connecting, untying, tying, knotting, or suspending her materials like cotton cloth, cotton thread, and wool. Nature-friendly materials and matter are made into human faces or objects. A human face is either metaphysical or ontological. It is a mirror of humanity. Facing human faces including that of the artist herself, making eye contact and communing with them can bring us to some mysterious experience. Her concerns with human faces derived from her experience of restoring her late grandmother’s portrait seek some metaphysical reality always hidden behind sensuous experience.

Kim’s work Dove Boy, in which a figure is made of wool, presents an encounter of the most urban figure with the most natural material. This work is based on her experience of coming across a young man in New York, the heart of contemporary art. In this work, she focuses on how the megalopolis New York made a spiritual impact on her art concerned with her experience of new life and relationships. She morphs the young man into a meaningful object or installation by using her hand with care. Wool she obtained is reborn as her work material by dusting and cleaning it meticulously.
In the exhibition, feathers seem to float in the air, which signals that there was a bird here or the bird has left for somewhere. Primitive murals often show images with a bird’s head and feathers synthesized with a man’s body symbolizing a shaman. This image is also a metaphor for an event in which nature has a link with man and god with man. It leads viewers’ imagination to archetypal primal shamanism via an ordinary young man in New York. Such elements as white feathers, wool, and the young person relate reality to unreality, illusion to reality, life to death, this world to that world, and the sacred to the profane. The lamb is one of the most important sacrifices in Christianity as well as a sacred medium replacing a human being, associated with sacrificial rituals that worked to maintain human society before civilization.
In a sense, issues in art such as originality and imagination have been mostly addressed in terms of formative techniques intrinsic to art, unconcerned with artists or viewers minds or spiritual matters. All the same, this matter of originality in art was considered significant only in a very short period of time. There has long been an assertion that contemporary art would replace the role of religion. Art has been thought of as a means to invoke divinity and religiosity intrinsic to humanity. This significance of art refers to the theme that runs through the entire history of art, artists and viewers, and spiritual communication and sympathy with art commissioners. Every meaningful event enables us to realize that seemingly insignificant events and things are after all meaningful through their accumulation and some magical operation. If considering the origin of images contemporary civilizations have erased in their memories in this way, we are able to guess some post contacting the roots of Kim’s work.
“Drawings are like words. Words pass away or turn into writings, novels or dissertations. Words are the origin of all such character mediums. And, everyone can speak with words. So do drawings. ---- Thread and needles are my words. --- Materials I obtained from nature are my voices.” (Excerpts from the 2012 Artist’s Statement)
Kim’s working process includes “a representation of words apropos of me,” “words that establish me,” “an encounter with such words,” and “a returning of my words (expressions).” We come across art somewhere on the road where being meets words and they become one and the same. Women's words have been considered secondary or often excluded in Korean society. A plurality of female artists, irrespective of their genres, have done their utmost to solidify women's words and their existence. Kim has constantly executed her works in women's words and with female senses.
Ramie cloth and wool may stand for some warmth, solace, or mental peace in the dimension of common, secular reality, stepping down from socio-cultural connotations and metaphysical metaphors. The body and the mind as well as the visible and the invisible all seek either balance and stability or freedom. Another place in another time is obviously different from this place in this time. Some person or some thing lends vitality to some space and time. This enlivens that, arousing memories. Our life is constructed, gets enriched, and grows through such an encounter of people with things or in the relation between them.
Kim’s 2010 performance is a portrayal of her encounter with dream and reality in her own distinctive idioms, harking back to the artist herself who dreams a daydream. The artist sleeps, falling into a reverie even though the environment she faces is turning into an enormous new town. Bedclothes and pillows are found even in this performance in which the artist herself falls into a sleep on the side of the road with her face without makeup and with her hair loose. At a glimpse, she looks like a mad bag lady, forging a weird scene. Her look symbolizes a woman who lives and works as a female artist today. The process of exploring one’s own words is neither comfortable nor warm and cozy. However, the reality is we cannot eschew this process.
“The space I explore is one that is gentle and warm and seems likely to heal even our souls.” (Excerpts from the 2007 Artist’s Statement)
*** In her work that took place at Yeoncheon Station in 2008, the artist suspended in air a piece of cotton cloth measuring 160cm long on which she had written what she wanted to say but hadn't. That was a path to her self, healing, and recovery. 

Kim Noam, Sejong Center Visual Arts Expert Advisor


Wild Seeds

   Art as we know it was not to be found at the 1981 launching of the YATOO Outdoor Field Art Research Association, which had developed out of the 1980 Geumgang Modern Art Festival. Dong-sik Lim who played a leading role in the establishing of the Association declared that one must "express the feelings or thoughts one has in Geumgang (Geum River) in a non-drawing method." "YATOO is an association for the research of outdoor art through fresh contact with nature. Based on a strong love for nature, it celebrates nature’s spontaneously gradual changes, its indefinite breadth and thickness, and every life force in it," proclaims the founding statement. Oddly, the same aesthetic characteristic is shown in Soon-im Kim's work. Kim has never claimed herself to be a nature artist, nor does she take the aesthetics of nature art as her ultimate goal. She knows 'how to draw' and 'how to make' and is fully aware of how closely such methods are connected with an artist's aesthetic vision. However, she does not seem to believe that 'drawing and making' will procure or elevate the aesthetics of her art. Rather, she seems to hold that familiar creative methodologies can restrict free creative visions and make for a more unnatural artistic world. The methods that she has chosen instead are shaman and 'the ethereal space.' Herself as a spiritual medium bestowing life to material forms and the space(work room) as the mother womb upon which life is thus bestowed... This is the starting point of the exhibition.

   Kim has given the exhibition the title of "Soon-im Kim's 생날 씨앗들." "I look at my job as that of a 'traveling farmer.' I think of myself as someone who finds common things that are hidden all around and takes care of them, nurtures and helps them grow, waiting for them to bear fruit, and then sharing that fruit with others," she says. Those who have been to her workroom should know that it is like the cocoon of a silkworm, the web of a spider, a space germinating the creation and production of images. The space is filled with countless traces of 'drawing and making,' drawing without being restricted by the drawing and making without being restricted by the sculpture. As I have once said, "Like an artist who has worked for several decades in the space, she sprouts 'temporality of space.' This 'temporality' is parasitic in the way mushrooms parasitize rotten trees. The artist herself becomes an 'ethereal body' or 'ethereal space'." In Korean aesthetics, there is the concept of "all life's logic," referring to the logic of nature by which all forms of life are created and reproduced. Kim seems to have substituted her own body with that of a tree. The exhibited artworks are in vivid existence as if to aesthetically verify all life's logic. The tree branches symbolize the temporality of thinking. Branches, large and small, hang from the space of the workroom. Growing like ivies, they become sublime aesthetic metaphors.

Gim Jong-gil (curator & critic)


Ethereal: extremely light and delicate; heavenly - A few thoughts on aesthetic ether in Kim Soon-im’s art

1. Extreme symbolic words   

Kim Soon-im’s artistic pilgrimage has been recorded in her solo shows. Her work’s artistic fragrance, radiated through her pilgrimage, is sensed in the subjects of her solo exhibitions: The Ethereal Space (2007); The Unknown Face of God (2007); I meet with stone (2008); Ethereal (2008); The Thread, the Memory (2009), The Forest of Strayer (2010); and Mind Space (2011). Of these subjects ‘Ethereal’ draws special attention. The word ‘ethereal’ means extremely light and delicate, and heavenly. An artist’s work cannot be defined in a single word. 
If an ‘ethereal body’ can be called an ‘ether body’, and ‘ethereal space’ can be called ‘ether space’, the meaning of a ‘medium’ lending life to material form can be applied to ‘ethereal’. The medium brings life to space as a material form. The medium refers to the space surrounding a work of art or the space where a work of art is placed, and indirectly to an artist. Kim’s aesthetic attitude was presented at her first solo show. Kim is like a shaman as a medium. In this sense ‘the ethereal space’ is the womb of birth, old age, sickness and death where a work of art comes into being, is displayed, deconstructed, and disappears, and ‘ethereal’ is an extreme symbolic word a work of birth and death carries. 

2. Sublime aesthetic metaphors
In 2011 Kim Soon-im participated in the OCI Museum of Art artist-in-residence program. Her work for the program is a continuation of Ethereal. While joining several domestic and overseas artist-in residence programs, she has lived a nomadic life for a few years. In her work physical places and spaces have incessantly changed as she freely planned projects and explored different subjects. Kim is amazingly well adapted to changing her places of work. The most salient work Kim showed through the residency program is the ‘studio-space’ itself. Like an artist who has worked for several decades in the space, she sprouts ‘temporality of space’. This ‘temporality’ is parasitic in the way mushrooms parasitize rotten trees. The artist herself becomes an ‘ethereal body’ or ‘ethereal space’. Character drawing transcribing the text of Laozi’s Tao Te Ching, faces produced in wool felting, work traces including charcoal drawings and body modeling show how she addresses her time. I think her ‘ethereal body’ and ‘ethereal space’ can be compared with trees and nature. This can be formalized as the following:
Nature: ethereal space: studio / tree; ethereal body: artwork (or artist)
Her body is the body of a tree. Temporality of thinking becomes the branches of a tree. Small and large twigs are placed on the walls of a studio. Covered like ivy, they are sublime aesthetic metaphors. 

3. A lark with a concept 
Where is ‘ethereal’ as an aesthetic metaphor born? I think this derives from ‘a lark’. What is ‘a lark’? It is ‘doing’ in ‘doing art’. ‘Doing’ means ‘doing something’ and ‘something’ here depends on the seed of imagination. ‘Doing’ also means ‘a game or a play’ as a process. Kim’s lark is a game playing with imagination.
Kim I met at her studio is constant. Her artistic attitude seemed to be maintained through ‘relationships with others’. I felt myself as ‘some person’ in such a relationship, not as a viewer. I also felt I was absorbed into her time. To become a clown or a shaman may mean to become an artist. Kim begins her work after setting a stage for a game in her studio.
‘Doing art’ does not pursue any concrete result or some physical property. ‘Doing art’ is just for itself. It may bring about unexpected results. At this point we can ask what art is. I consider this related to a lark or a game. This may be a game with or without concepts. An indigenous attribute of art lies in this lark. 

4. Seems to be existent and non-existent 
Lee remembers a day when her mother changed her bedding as a young child. She recalls cotton and cotton cloth. Lee also remembers wool bedclothes that offered her warmth when she stayed in an overseas artist-in residence. Lee produces her work in the way of her grandmother and mother: stitching that allows her to look at herself. Lee gives birth to her family members, those who she has met during her travels, and those who she has met in dreams. Made of cotton, cotton cloth, and wool, they seem to be existent and non-existent. 
The worlds of people (faces), stones, needles, twigs, and thread are extremely light and vulnerable. The worlds were real but are now recorded in memories. The memory is a mental function working in the interior of the consciousness, based on current presence and experience. Kim enters or constructs a world of memories as if to analyze the principles and nature of memories. I would like to call her aesthetic ether a ‘philosophy of memories’. As ‘reviving an individual’ can be seen from the perspective of a struggle for memories, we may call an artist’ memories of an individual incident a ‘symbolic struggle’. If so, we can read Kim’s philosophy of memories as a symbolic struggle. We cal also extract the concepts of the memory, subject, image, and similarity from these philosophical roots. 

“Each represented face is extremely individual and universal. I work with those I have met during the process of my growth. As they resemble someone, they remind viewers of someone they know. In other words, they are those whose names I remember, and simultaneously those who can soothe someone’s heart by being someone for them.” 

Gim Jong-gil (Art Critic)


The Warmth and Discomfort Brought by the Non-domiciled Encounter :

   Kim Soon-Im is an artist who records the encounter between herself and the outside world and visualizes the memory. She manifests the obligation of an art, production of critical knowledge, by showing the warmth of soft materials and revealing the discomfort within, at the same time. She speaks honest language of the self based on her personal experience and destined for non-domiciliation, which makes those experiences possible. The world and the artistic objects she has been meeting so far will be changed by the new encounters she will have in the future. Therefore it is important for understanding her work to ponder on the people she meets, the places she visits, the time she visits, and what she thinks. It is because, although her style and narratives are important too, it is critical to pay attention to her life itself, including the way she meets the world and the place and time the encounters happen.       


1. Encounter

   Kim Soon-Im mediates and documents the encounters between a human being and material, and an individual and the world. It looks different when she creates the forms of human in her studio work and deals with objects in outdoor projects. It is because the figures of human she creates, like the human statues built with clay and formed with resin, are of forms of specific people and belong to the area of re-creation art. However what she really wants through those works is to express her consistent theme of the encounter. Like with peoples, her perspective in dealing with natural objects is always focused on the encounters. Therefore, it is always consistent that she deals with objects she meets, whether they are people or natural objects, in her work. Strictly focusing on the language of herself based on the personal experience, she is extending the amplitude of her narratives by diversifying the styles in various places, using various media.    

   Humanism is an essential element in Kim Soon-Im’s work. She talks about every aspect of people she met, in sincerity. With honest attitude, she talks about the person she met in her life without embellishing or extremely exaggerating. Kim Soon-Im’s humanism is based on experience and self-confession. She treats humanism in terms of pantheism. Her work, in which she re-creates the memory about people she met, calmly narrates the life from the perspective of humanism. She converted her religious position from theism to pantheism, which is different from atheism. However, she is fully aware of the fact that the area of religion is different from the art. That is why Kim Soon-Im adopts humanism in her work. She maintains both religious pantheism and philosophical humanism, but limits her area of artistic practice to the real world based on experience.

   The encounter with a material is another decisive factor to comprehend Kim Soon-Im’s work. It is valuable to note that she uses objects in everyday life and materials which have relatively little touch of human, such as tree, cloth and thread, for her work. While smoothly accepting the decisive power of the material, she is capable of drawing it closely near her mind. She has the positive ability of drawing the text of material to her own context. She does not transform the characteristics of the material with ornate rhetoric. While keeping the material’s true character, she creates unique styles from it. Therefore for Kim Soon-Im, materials are targets of the encounter and substance of art, at the same time.

   Her works have ecological theme. She draws the objects she met in everyday life to her work. It means that she does not cast around for objects for the art work. She creates art pieces, which are possible in natural environment, in the open air space like Kum-River Nature Art Fair. Also, she picks up stones, collects and makes records of it wherever she visits. The collection of objects, like the project is the work she has been pursuing for the longest time. It is her merit too that she considers the context of the space, when she works. She thinks much of the atmosphere of the space itself, where the art piece is placed. It is due to the fact she is an installation artist, who is very accustomed to accommodating to the provided space, when working.   

2. Wandering

   Wandering. It is an important action which makes Kim Soon-Im stand out. She gains experience through new encounters which happen in new places. Therefore, her experience works as the inner dynamic of artistic practice. She learns about life and acquires artistic energy from new experience. She is destined to wander around periodically or randomly. Participating in several residency programs might have let her know the charm of temporary domiciliation. New experiences gained from every new place cannot be compared with ones of artists who work settled in the same place. They give huge energy to the artist. Kim Soon-Im reflects on herself and the world through visiting new places.

   Non-domiciliation is Kim Soon-Im’s destiny. It is like the divine punishment given to the artist. The artist of non-domiciliation, Kim Soon-Im, weaves the narration of breakaway through the new encounters. If someone stays in the same place all the time, she could only self-reproduce or scoop out inner self. Kim Soon-Im who constantly wanders has the infinite potential of transformation. She gathers stone when meeting stone, picks up twig when meeting twig, and passes her hand over cotton wool when meeting cotton wool. Even in the institutionalized creative space, she takes in the fate of wandering and transforms into the positive energy. If she settles down in an ironworks in Moonrae-dong, Korea, she will use hammer and welding machine without hesitation. It is her fate who does not stay in one place and constantly wanders around.   
   Kim Soon-Im is an artist who provides warmth and discomfort at the same time. Among her works, many recent pieces deal with human forms using fiber materials such as cloth and thread. If these human forms took conventional settings and expressions, we might have regarded her work as a kind of kitsch. However the reaction was opposite. It was because the aspects of human being she deals with and her methods of expression were very creative. Her uniqueness stems from her own mode of expression about how the cloth, cotton wool and thread meet. Furthermore, it naturally resulted from the process through which she tried to express her encounter more effectively. While there are warm and soft aspects, cold and scary aspects are also revealed at the same time. The human forms she creates are not only pretty and beautiful but also possess anxiety and remorse. Sometimes, she dangles needles below the human figure. Showing sore and painful wound is another method of hers, which reveals her true understanding of human being.       
   Kim Soon-Im was born and raised in Punggi, a small town located in the hillside of Sobaek Mountain, Korea. Her pristine and solid nature is naturally revealed in her choice of theme and objects for her work. This is the source of beauty, which is expressed only when the artist’s statement is made by the honest self-language, manifested from the inner necessity. It is very fortunate to discover an artist like Kim Soon-Im in the world of modern art, where the production and consumption of an art piece are not led to the production and communication of meanings but result in the maximization of exchange value and void language game. She has been raised into a human being, learning life from the nature. And still, while living as an artist today, she is being transfused with the same energy from the nature. She is the person who could cherish the memories about the earth where she was born and raised. Therefore, if we could confirm the belief that the production of art could act as a base of communication, through her work, it is possible not only because of the art piece created by her but also, more fundamentally, because of the faith we have in the self-language created by a human being, Kim Soon-Im.

   The project which speaks for wandering Kim Soon-Im most efficiently is the project with stones. She shows the picture which includes the exact circumstance of the place she found the stone, together with the actual stones. Upon recording the first scene as a picture, she writes down the date and the place she met the object on the stone and collects it. Regarding the encounter between the stone and herself as an event, she throws the record and actual object into the gallery. The image of the object delivered through the medium of picture and the actual object itself are two kinds of way to prove the artist’s action. In the picture, the record of object, and the stone, the collected object, memories of encounter coexist in different forms.  

   By showing the memory about the object, as recorded by the medium of picture, along with the actual object itself, in the form of the collected object, Kim Soon-Im presents the memory of an object she met in unfamiliar place. Those stones she met show her journey connecting Suwon, Anyang, Gongju, and Seoul of Korea, Vermont of the United States and Tokyo and Fukushima of Japan. These actions of recording and collecting prove the journey of the artist Kim Soon-Im, who wanders around. The stones she collected are not the aesthetic target which wears fabricated rhetoric to secure the aesthetic value. They are just ordinary stones which only contain strict and objective literal information. However, the chain of those stones acts as a proxy which proves the action of the artist and is reborn as an artistic object.  


3. Warmth and Discomfort

   Kim Soon-Im avoids the fiction of the embellished beauty. It is because the wound and sorrow of the time always coexist in softness. The person in her work who has gentle look and posture and seems to be asleep, sometimes looks like a dead person from a different angle. The tired look of an old lady who is almost attached to the comforter looks like she is having a peaceful rest but it also contains sorrowful looks. It is why Kim Soon-Im’s work arouses discomfort along with friendly feeling. It is very rare to use soft materials to arouse discomfort, like this. Different from most works utilizing fiber materials which try to infuse artificial emotions, referring to the feminine characteristic of the material, Kim Soon-Im’s work has an appeal because it transforms the softness into discomfort. This transformation has been possible not only because of the artist’s intention but also of her sensibility. Like this, Kim Soon-Im’s honest self expression, mentioned above, is manifested in her style too, not only in his narration.

   In this discussion, it is valuable to consider the reason and the method of existence of an artist, who creates artificial objects and performs actions. Artist is destined to embellish. It is why the existence of the artist and the creative result of the art piece differs or could differ from each other. The art piece, parted with the existence of the artist oneself, is not different from the industrial products which has no appeal. The warm and uncomfortable art pieces created by a very soft and neat person make it hard to define Kim Soon-Im’s work at once, create many possibilities to interpret them and thus, work as an attraction. For Kim Soon-Im, the action of ‘embellishing,’ means expressing her experiences with her sensibility. She performs the art based on the inner necessity and it is her virtue.

4. Inner Necessity and Self-language

   Kim Soon-Im is a multiplayer who does not restrict herself to a certain medium but make approaches utilizing various media. Even though the materials she mostly uses seem to be focused on fiber materials, they are very diverse, in fact. For the most initial stages of project, she draws picture. Especially, after the drawings she does before making the human figures three dimensional (3D), molding, casting and working with clothes or threads follow. She executes various works with fiber materials, including two dimensional work, molding, installation and others, such as sewing on clothes, modeling 3D objects with paper, winding threads around the 3D object, making clods by sewing wool, installing threads, and so on. The documentary photographs are presented as a part of installation, beyond its function of record. She has strength in naturally connecting performance, drawing, modeling and installation in one project. One of them is the method of making a part of a human figure protruding to make it three dimensional, utilizing a huge cloth. 

   Although they have same figure, the reverberation towards the audience could be very different depending on the details of material used for constructing it and how those materials are treated. Kim Soon-Im’s work which requires much labor and exertion such as attaching silk thread to each object strand by strand provides much deeper reverberation of sensibility, because of such arduous effort. The solo exhibition she will have soon has the theme of “ethereal space.” For the exhibition, she is preparing an installation work in which a human figure made by attaching threads and the landscape of Sobaek Mountain coexist. There will be another installation of long pieces of cloth, look like a coat string, on which 213 untold stories are embroidered with red thread. Those pieces of cloth will be hanging from the ceiling and let blow around. Another piece is the representation of an old lady the artist had met in Japan, made of wool. Although the material used in the piece is light, it contains a theme which is not light at all.

Gim Jun-Gi (art critic, director of Busan Museum of Art Korea)