interview with Artist4d

  Answer by Kim Soonim 20140319

(question : Artist4d)


Artist4d: Could you please briefly introduce your work and your practice?

Soonim: I am a visual artist who interprets people and regions I encounter in my life with my subjective method. I try to express them with natural materials as installation, sculpture , plane figures or performance.
Mostly, I express people with whom I could recall the place I exist or I have existed by choosing objects which properly reveal the subjects’ sentiment. Needlework is my frequently used method of expression. It has reference to my childhood. I grew up in the area of Sobaek Mountain and spent time mostly in nature where I found my playmates in mountains and fields. Growing up in a large family, I learned from my mother and grandmother, and became accustomed to needlework with which I could connect and associate things with needle and thread.
I am interested in the ‘encounter’ between I and the objects and how the ‘memories’ created by those encounters could make each object special. ‘Travel’ is my important method of work to fill these curiosities and to create another.

 Widely, I work with space installation series ‘The Space’, Sculptural installation series ‘The People’, memorial series ‘The Face’, and weaving drawing series ‘Cotton Drawing’. Also I love to try new method like video installation, photograph, and performance… etc.


You described that you grew up surrounded by nature, as well as in a large family. Could you talk a bit about how you think your upbringing in the area of Sobaek Mountain may have influence on your practice today?

Punggi, around of Sobaek Mountain, were is my home town, is small village surrounded by range after range of mountains. A small girl only can play with earth, plants, wind, sun, water and stones. They are my toys and friends of my childhood.

 This natural experience made me feel comfortable with this material even when I study sculpture at the University.

 At Punggi, I grow up with my father’s family and my mother’s family in one town between one street.  My grandparent has 8 children and they all have their child also…At the Bing holyday, my mother has to prepare food for over 200 relatives.

 My grandfather is big Confucianism strong mind person. He always told me ‘you better enjoy art. But become a artist is humble occupation.’ He and my father never agree that I’m become artist.  So I was hated him so much. That hate made me strong. And one day, when the hate run to an extreme, I realize that I just like him. So I was become very interested that people resemble other people who spend time with even if they hate each other.

 I had many chance to meet different characters from my family so easy to observant people and find their story. And I think that things became myself.

 The place where I stay, the people who I met make me.

 Now I’m looking for the people who look like their local for my project.



Could you please introduce your work, 'Na Nun Dol' which you shared at the 2013 Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art? What is the meaning of the name of this work? 


  The title ‘Na Nun Dol’ is from Korean word ‘나는 ’. ‘Dol’ is stone. ‘Na Nun’ has a dual meaning which is ‘fly’ and ‘I’. It signifies that the stone fly, and at the same time, I am a stone.

 At 2013 Hangzhou, 1337 of stone from Hangzhou fly with feathers of the sky of Hangzhou.

 I met stones at Hangzhou. When I touch them and I spend time with them, they talk about their story.

 Mostly they are from river. Hangzhou has many small river and beautiful big rake. So from their shape and color, we can read Hangzhou stone story.

 I wish them forget their weight even for a moment at their local.


Your work, 'Weaving at the Space,' is durational -having lasted three days, correct? Could you please introduse this work, was the passage of time an important element of the work symbolically, or more of just a necessity required to create the piece?


When I work with ‘Weaving at the Space’, I have idea how I work and how long I will work but I did not knows how it is going to look like. I may have imagination of form but I wasn’t sure. It’s also up to nature like dead plants, wind, weather, and my energy for 3 days on that place, river side.

 By the artist who start to live in the point of river side for 3 days at daytime only, the place is cleaned dead branches, leafs, and plants. On the center of that point, Living thing of growth potential is grow for 3 days from exactly that place only.

 It’s performance Installation with video recording.

I weave by my hands with thread of dead reeds what live and dead at last a year in this riverside.

 Dead annual plants at winter which is leaning against each other, made a cozy space under the snow.

 I also want to weave to make a living thing what grow and rolling together as time goes on, like other lives that live this riverside.


I am curious about your piece, 'Mind Space,' what do the different materials (stones, strings) represent? Could you please describe your inspiration behind this work? I feel that the piece succeeds in making something typically read as being quite heavy feel very light, and it is uplifting in sentiment as well.


 Thank you for telling me your feeling. You are right.

 I did ‘Mind Space’ at Macau. I had one month residency program at that time. So I try to meet the stone of Macau. Most stones from Macau are from old broken house, tiles and breaks. They show their history, their heavy story to me. I want to make them light to fly… … by my way..

 When I lived in Macau, it was February 2011. It was just after lunar New Year Festival in Asia. So they use many of colorful threads in Macau. I correct them and I try to weave from the highest place, ceiling, to the stones what lives lowest place. To make them feel light. 


Many of your works incorporate the use of stones as material. What is it about these found items, all different yet somehow the same as well, that is intriguing to you and your practice? Is it their reference th a specific place or time that for you gives them character? Could you please introduce a few of your pieces that involve stones as medium? 


 Natural stone what is easy to find from my hometown was my toys and friends of my childhood.

 When I meet stone, someone is from mountain, someone is from river, and someone is from broken house.  Someone has broken, pain, and still has some concrete on their body. I believe stone from that local show that place like people from that local.

 For example, when I met stone of Macau, I met them in Macau at Feb. 2011.  They arNNe all rolling stone on the street.  Someone might be borne from Macau but most stones are not. Mostly stone live longer than human so the happen that I meet the stone is a moment of their life. I love to meet them to meet the local nature and I would like to remember that.

 One of my project which is ‘I meet with stone.’ express this idea.

I attached my artist note about stone at the bottom.

 I meet with stone’ or so called the Stone Project was initiated from Ansan, since January 2003. Although it was not every day or every time, whenever I visit new places and I realize that 10 years have passed since I first paid close attention to stones on the street. This project aimed to demonstrate that the stones that were without names and once had not been recognized can be actually remembered as special stones. This was not so different experience as special stones.This was not so different experience as meeting new people. From every corner of the exhibition, I realized that many visitors actually showed genuine interested toward these not so pretty, un-special, and scratched stones, perhaps, for them, emotional attachments whether they were originated from our ancestral DNA, habits, instincts, or religions, these stones may had been brought up similar emotions as human’s hearts. 

Stones on the street, which I do not know, which are unknown, which are unknown, and which  yet do not have names to me, one just like myself, who is standing on the same street.   

2012. 5.9 from artist note of Kim Soonim

 Each stone resembles the place it has been. In winter, 2002, seeing several stones lying haphazardly on my desk, I discovered myself recalling the place and the time I had picked up those stones. My project started on that day.

 The project is to record stones I have been meeting during my travel, started in January 2003 in Anyang. At first, when I met a stone on the road, I took pictures where the stone lay, put the stone in the bag and delivered it to the gallery. Then I exhibited all those stones with pictures to show where they are from. However, the routine has changed since one day when I started to take pictures of scenes from the stone’s view, by putting down the camera in the spot the stone was laying. The new recording method makes it possible to see what those stones, moved by the artist to the gallery, had been seeing in their journey. At the same time, the audience can experience the low viewpoint of the stones, which rolled along the roads. If an audience encounters a stone, from the place she know or related to her, she will suddenly start having affection for this ugly and unfamiliar stone by thinking ‘I have been there too, I also have taken pictures there, It is where I grew up, Oh the stone I could not see their ended up here..’ This feeling may come from realizing that we are not different from these stones on the roads. 

 Stones resembling their home roll along the roads without being noticed and meet the artist. The meetings are remembered and generate new values by being shared through the medium of ‘recording.’ The essence, which makes these stones more special and have the artist share its specialty with people, is ‘memory’. Our existence becomes special when someone remembers someone else and remembered by someone else.  

 2008 by Kim Soonim

 When I have exhibition with ‘I meet with stone.’ Project, I ask audience to find each stone where they from. People can find history of stone from the photograph on the wall of gallery. On the stone and on the photograph of view has a date and name of place each so if people try, and spend time with them they might can make new relation. After then, I give them a stone and matching photograph with 1USD when they find themselves. To make the stone keep rolling to the others who loves them.


Could you lastly please introduce your work, 'The Cocoon,'? Does the site where the work was created hold specific meaning for you? 


 Every winter at the coldest day, we have outdoor exhibition in Gapyung Korea called ‘Jalasum International Baggat Art Exhibition’. Jalasum is natural Island on the Bookhangang river.  The Island had full of natural plants, trees, and wild animals. For last a few years, our last government has start Big 4 River Rearrange Project. From that project, Jalasum become a tourism park. To make Park,  government cut down most of  natural trees of Jalasum and bring new different trees on the Island.

 When I visit Jalasum(name of Island), I still saw many dead branches look like dead body on riverside. So I start to make cocoon to hide, alive, dream and reborn.


 The Cocoon; The Space 56-Jala 2013

 Material : Be cut and abandoned dead branches on east riverside of Jalasum, reeds 

 I meet with a tree like stone that look out on the river.

The memory of life left on the body of fossil.

Be cut and abandoned branches around the dead wooden columns becomes a cocoon for it

The body of interlacing branches

Become a butterfly

Become a flower

 And become a life.

Cold but not just cold,

Pain but not only painful

The wind of dream that is not only a dream rises.

 2013. 2.17  by Kim Soonim  in Jalasum


 What are you working on currently?


 Now, I prepare my solo show in Youngeun Museum of Contemporary Art which is open at 30th May 2014. After that, I’ll travel to vallauris France for residency program and solo show. I’ll keep doing my series ‘The Space’ when I met the new place, and keep look forward to find the people who is like their local for ‘The people’, ‘The Face’, and ‘Cotton Drawing’ series.

  For my new work, I have to keep travel.

 I still very exciting to meet new place and people it made me alive.

 Currently, I just start new project with my father’s old down quilt. It seems that I need very long time to finish.  


 Upcoming exhibition

 Workshop: 2014. 4.11 -26 Global Nomadic Art Project–South Korea

 2014. 5.1 -30 GNAP Group-exhibition, Yeunmisan Nature Art Center, Gongju Korea

 Solo Exhibition May 30th -Jun 28th 2014 Youngeun Museum of Contemporary Art, South Korea

 Residency Program 2014.7.8 -8.14 Vallauris France

 Solo Exhibition 2014.8.9 -13 A.I.R Vallauris Gallery France

 2014. 8.29-10.31 Gumgang International Nature Art Biennial