Wednesday Kim connects the process of making her work with images in sub-consciousness, unwelcome involuntary thoughts, trauma and sometimes, with momentary catharsis. Her works usually treat issues related to identity, human body, and sexuality. From digitally mediated collages to a butt-shaped drum, Kim’s imageries are reminiscent of the original Surrealist movement almost a hundred years ago, but with contemporary significance. In her new video installation, Kim delves once again deep down into the mind of modern men who are simultaneously hyper-socialized and estranged from one another. Awkwardness, Kim believes, hence has become the remedy for individuals in such a schizophrenic time.
The combination of human sexuality and technology factor into some of your works. How would you describe their relationship? Can the inorganic truly coexist with the organic?
It is hard to describe their relationship. If I have to say something, it’s an intermediary of songs full of primitive instinct. Also like cyborg and animal together. I use body parts a lot on my work, but not all of them perform sexually. For me, it is really hard to eliminate using body parts on my work because every time I tried not to use them, they were stuck in my head aggressively.
My works are mixture of conscious and the subconscious. These make hybrid images, as organic and inorganic coexist and make hybrid object as well.
What are your thoughts on art as therapy? In your practice, it seems some works explore traumatic instances. Do you believe art can be successful in working through trauma?
Yes, I feel better after I exposure them in art. I was able to find out and go deeper into my trauma through my art practice and it helped me to get closer to the real me. So I have been making art to release them through it. The experience of trauma is difficult to express in words.
Some subject matter you investigate may be deemed “taboo” to some (Deviant sexuality comes to mind). How does your work offer different avenues to approach this difficult subject matter?
“Deviant Sexuality Comes To Mind” is the case as well. There are no intentions of taboo in the video all the time. Perhaps, sometimes it’s hiding. I kind of want viewers to be a little bit confused, like they weren’t sure what they just saw.
The elements in the work build bizarre images, making the viewers feel awkward and sense discomfort, like playing “dirty mind” game. The riddle goes, “I go in hard. I come out soft. You blow me hard.” Guess what is the answer. This simple question brings many different words depending on people’s perception. The answer is, of course, “bubble gum.” But this game does not only make you feel discomfort, it can also make you laugh. (Most of the time I get the worst scores from this game…) It’s okay for serious art to be funny.
It seems like compulsive movements, obsessive tendencies, and somewhat transgressive content mesh together to create awkward states, an important characteristic of your practice. This “awkwardness” is something you identify. Can you explain why this is important to defining your work?
What is familiarity? Why do we feel awkward about certain things? I think it is all from discipline (customs). My dreams are always against intimate situations. I connect the process of making my work with images in my sub-conscious, unwelcome involuntary thoughts, and sometimes, with momentary catharsis. And the images from these ideas create awkwardness in interpersonal relationships. Or it might be my own type of “defense mechanism”.
How has your history shaped your artistic practice?
Traumatic experiences became an obsession. The hidden forces of the subconscious begin to swirl with traumatic memory and ended up creating bizarre images in subconscious stages, such as a dream. Most of my works are employed from dreams.
So, here is a formula:
Traumatic experience ->(obsession -> instructive thoughts) + subconscious = bizarre and grotesque images in dreams.
What does the video medium offer in terms of creating surrealist engagements? How do you adapt it to base your practice?
I am not sure but I don’t think it’s a matter of media. Maybe because I am just used to creating images based on my dreams, which are moving images. I really dream a lot, almost every day, including nightmares.
Could you explain your thoughts on the “voyeur” In contemporary society? It seems easier than ever to gaze upon unsuspecting people, presently or not. What do you make of this new-found freedom?
Everyone is a voyeur. They just don’t perceive how they enjoy peeking other things. I am a voyeur of my own dreams. My video tells enough of how I enjoy this perverted behavior. While I am peeking into my dreams, I am almost forgetting that I exist there at that moment and assimilate with dreams.
What role does humor play in your art? As well, how do you see it employed within contemporary art?
It’s like making a “rating pending” film into a “rated R” film;a cup of milk that keeps you away from too much spicy food.
Humor is a bridge between art and viewers and a way of helping to digest artworks.
This interview was conducted by curator Matthew Kyba.