Photograph of Kimsooja, courtesy of the artist
Place of Birth:
Multimedia (electronic, digital, video, film), Performance Art
, Textiles and clothing
Installation Artist, Mixed Media Artist
, Performance Artist, Sewer, Textile Artist
Cloth and Life
We are wrapped in cotton cloth at birth, we wear it until we die, and we are again wrapped in it for burial. Especially in Korea, we use cloth as a symbolic material on important occasions such as coming of age ceremonies, weddings, funerals, and rites for ancestors. Therefore, cloth is thought to be more than a material, being identified with the body—that is, as a container for the spirit.
When a person dies, his family burns the clothes and sheets he used. This may have the symbolic meaning of sending his body and spirit to the sky, the world of the unknown. When I look back over my more than twenty years of handling bedcovers, I feel that I have always been performing, guided by piles of cloth I have lived among. What in the world have I stitched and patched? What have I tied up in bundles? When will the journey of my needle end, my silkworm unwrap its flesh? Will it in the end, slough off its skin? Will the bundles with no destination find their way to go?
Statement courtesy of Kimsooja
École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France (1984-1985)
Hong-IK University, Seoul, South Korea (1980-1984)
Individual Artist Award, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York, NY, USA (2007)
Anonymous Was a Woman Award, Anonymous Was A Woman Foundation, New York, NY, USA (2002)
Artist-in-Residence, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY, USA (1992-1993)