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<i>Grand deuil (Deep Mourning)</i> image

Grand deuil (Deep Mourning)

Ayoung Kim

Seoul, b.1979


Digital print

Dimensions variable

©Ayoung Kim, Courtesy of the artist and Kukje Gallery
Image provided by Kukje Gallery


Ayoung Kim's work considers the natural resources of the seas and deserts, reflecting on how oil has become the equivalent of gold in our contemporary era and how this phenomenon intertwines with the history of the Middle East.

The artist realigns and fragments macro-histories of the Middle East alongside the modern Korean economic boom resulting from political and economic ties with the region, overlaying these with individual micro-histories from within these two countries, merging them to create a unique kind of cultural algorithm.

The algorithm departs from meta-storylines and transforms into a disassembled and scattered narrative, highlighting the intersection, collision, and tension of language—librettos which Kim utilizes to create experimental chorus performances. Working in collaboration with the composer Heera Kim these compositions use unnatural sounds from a musical score similar to avant-garde opera.

Kim is particularly interested in the myths and history of bitumen, commonly known as the base material of asphalt and a black, dark brown solid or viscous residue of refined petroleum. The history and use of naturally occurring bitumen dates long before the discovery of petroleum, and as described in the Bible, the substance was extracted from trees and used to coat the interior and exterior of Noah’s ark.