Korean Artist Kimsooja at Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art presents the first UK solo show by the highly regarded Korean artist Kimsooja. The exhibition, located in Baltic’s largest gallery space on Level 4, will consist of two projected works A Needle Woman and A Laundry Woman-Yamuna River , India.

KimsoojaKimsooja’s work combines performance, video, and installation, addressing issues of the displaced self. Kimsooja brings together a conceptual, logical, and structural investigation of performance through immobility that inverts the notion of the artist as the predominant actor. The exhibition opens on Monday 5 October 2009.

A Needle Woman 1999-2001, was performed in 8 metropolitans around the world; Tokyo , Shanghai , Delhi , New York , Mexico City, Cairo , Lagos and London , each performance simultaneous projected through one of eight channels. Her silent presence elicits responses from passers-by who together weave a social, cultural fabric around the artist’s needle-like figure. At first, her motionless presence centres the viewer’s gaze, yet as time passes, their eyes move elsewhere, scanning the faces in the crowd in order to gauge their reactions and emotions as they try to understand what the artist is doing in the street.

In total silence and motionlessness, with her face directed away from the camera, Kimsooja’s wilful suppression of desires communicates a questioning of human condition on profound personal and spiritual levels. The stillness of her body acts as a barometer of a society or culture and at the same time as a void that allows the audiences to pass through her back and enter her position, so that they can see what the artist is gazing at and contemplating on. Kimsooja examines her body as an axis of space and time that posses compassionate questions about ourselves, social political justices, multiculturalism and region.

Accompanying A Needle Woman, Kimsooja presents A Laundry Woman-Yamuna River, India . Again, the artist is motionless apparently suspended in time, in contrast to A Needle Woman, she contemplates the nature that surrounds her. The river slides by, picking up flotsam, washing away the earth and as cremated ashes flow past the work considers the relationship between the body and nature, stillness and movement and the cycle of life and death.

During a period of hyper-consumption of information, Kimsooja asks pertinent questions about the nature of human existence, exploring ideas of time, consciousness and perception. Her work is more than an ethnographic document, the viewer is immersed in an experience that establishes connections, invites relationships and shared experience that expands time and seeks universal truths.

Kimsooja’s work has been exhibited internationally and featured in numerous solo and group shows, such as Artempo (2007) and In-Finitum (2009) in Venice, Cities on the Move (1997-2000), Traditions/Tensions (1996-1998), and Biennales in Kwangju (1995), Sao Paolo (1998), the Whitney Biennial (2002), Busan (2002), Sydney (1998), Istanbul (1997), Lyon (2000), Valencia (2003), Venice (1999, 2005), and most recently Thessaloniki (2009) and Moscow (2009).
Solo exhibitions include Mumbai: A Laundrey Field, Lw Moulin, Continua Gallery (2009); Lotus: Zone of Zero, BOZAR, Brussels (2008); To Breathe: A Mirror Woman, Crystal Palace, Reina Sophia, Madrid, 2006; To Breathe / Respirare at La Fenice, Venice (2006); Traveling solo show Conditions of Humanity, Contemporary Art Museum of Lyon, Museum Kunst Palast, Dusseldorf, PAC Milan (2003-2004); A Laundry Woman, Kunsthalle Wien (2002); A Needle Woman, P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center/ MOMA (2001), A Needle Woman in Kunsthalle Bern (2001); Rodin Gallery, Seoul (2000); and ICC, Tokyo (2000); CCA Kitakyushu (1999).

BALTIC has no permanent collection, providing instead an ever-changing calendar of exhibitions and activities that give a unique and compelling insight into contemporary artistic practice. The BALTIC programme ranges from blockbuster exhibitions to innovative new work and projects created by artists working within the local community. BALTIC is a place where visitors can experience innovative and provocative new art, relax, have fun, learn and discover fresh ideas.

BALTIC receives funding from The National Lottery through Arts Council England, Gateshead Council, Northern Rock Foundation and is supported by the European Regional Development Fund and One NorthEast.


Image: Kimsooja, Mumbai A Laundry Field.