Merging performance, video, and documentary and motivated by the desire to respond to the everyday realities of her surroundings, the work of the Korean artist Minouk Lim has been shown in increasingly wider circles since she was awarded the Hermes Korea Art Prize in 2007 and the 1st Media Art Korea Award in 2010. Describing her video-based work as “performance documentary theater,” Lim engages with the arteries of city life—the streets—to create poignant works that speak to individual alienation and the loss of place and collective memory amid globalized cities like Seoul undergoing rapid development. Lim’s first in-depth U.S. solo museum exhibition, Minouk Lim: Heat of Shadows, opens at the Walker Art Center on May 31, 2012 and runs through September 2, 2012.
The exhibition presents a trio of large-scale video installations based on performances in and around Lim’s hometown of Seoul. In New Town Ghost (2005), a slam poet with a megaphone raps on the back of a truck as it drives through a “new town” development in Seoul, as a reaction to the sweeping government initiatives that displace its citizens in the name of progress. S.O.S—Adoptive Dissensus (2009) follows nighttime passengers on a Han River cruise boat who encounter interludes staged on the river banks. An infrared camera records the warmth emanating from “pilgrims” as they travel on a tour bus to restricted construction sites in The Weight of Hands (2010). As an outgrowth of her interest in capturing collective unconsciousness, these arresting, immersive, multidisciplinary artworks speak to the human cost of modernization.
Expanding on Lim’s interest in merging conceptual and performative gestures with three-dimensional objects, the exhibition also comprises a series of wearable sculptures commissioned by the Walker. Constructed from “thermofoam” material sculpted by heat and a combination of man- made and natural materials such as synthetic fur, paraffin, animal bones, polyurethane, velvet, and feathers, the works are conceived as protective shields for the human body and totemic devices that articulate an imagined apocalyptic landscape. Lim will collaborate with Minneapolis-based dancer and choreographer Emily Johnson on an opening night performance that animates the sculptures around themes of nature, myth, and civilization. The performance takes place on May 31 at 7 p.m.
“Minouk is one of the most dynamic artists working in Asia,” said Walker senior curator of visual arts Clara Kim, who organized the exhibition. “Her work poignantly and courageously responds to the conditions of cities within a globalized world that are facing a crisis of modernization, where human life and integrity are sacrificed by the ambitions of economic development and political prowess.”
Minouk Lim was born in Daejeon, South Korea, and lives and works in Seoul. Lim’s work has been shown in group and solo exhibitions at venues around the world, including the Freer-Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; San Francisco Art Institute and REDCAT; Witte de With, Rotterdam; and ArtSonje Center in Seoul. In addition, she has participated in major international biennales and festivals including the 2011 Festival BOM; the 2010 Liverpool Biennial Touched at FACT, Liverpool, UK; the 2009 Yokohama International Festival of Arts and Media; the 7th Gwangju Biennale curated by Okwui Enwezor; and the 10th International Istanbul Biennale curated by Hou Hanru. She has upcoming exhibitions at the Witte de With in Rotterdam in a group exhibition titled Melanchotopia and at the Paris La Triennale at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.
About the Exhibition Curator
Clara Kim joined the Walker Art Center as Senior Curator of Visual Arts in 2011. Previously, she was Gallery Director and Curator at REDCAT in Los Angeles. Kim was also one of the co-curators (under artistic director Kim Sunjung) of the 2010 Media City Seoul—an international biennial organized by the city of Seoul with over 40 international artists.
Minouk Lim is organized by the Walker Art Center and is made possible by generous support from John L. Thomson and Helen and Peter Warwick.