Jimin Kim: ENVy⁷
1. A presentation of latest works by Korean artist Jimin Kim; the artist deals with the moment of intersecting between life and death through the artwork
UARTSPACE presents a solo exhibition, ENVy⁷ featuring works by Kim Jimin.
Let's ask the question, what is the meaning of our lives and what are human desires? This could be either a philosophical question, or a daily question. Even if it is that of sentient beings who struggle for their narcissistic conclusions that they’re not a lump of desire, the feeling of desire itself is very disturbing, mostly because it feels like disclosing weakness. However many philosophers, poets, writers, doctors, and artists elucidate that mankind is a mass of desire. Charlie Chaplin, a sage of movie industries, left a spanking epigram; “Why do we bother to find the meaning? Life is about desires, not meanings”.
Jimin Kim’s practice focuses on human lives and desires, but doesn’t face the human beings as it is. Kim examines these themes with his own methodologies. Kim paints life, adores death, and has affection for non-human creatures. His mind seems very pessimistic and skeptical. He makes a situation, that one must have to look at it in a way, rather than an assumption, which could be viewed in another way. Therefore, we as the audiences experience no longer savoring his works with an assumption, but entering into the situation and producing a scene from which we cannot escape from it. In this exhibition, audiences will be able to find numerous 'oneself' made of a tiny object while getting sucked into the vortex of illusions that makes us think, “am I the object, or the object is being me?” like the dream of Phalaenopsis.
Artist deals with the moment of intersecting between life and death through the artwork. Artist emphasizes that desires are inevitable instincts of mankind, but his attitude is contemplative. At the same time, he expresses the situation after death either with colorful beauty or imaginary space. It is very inconsistent as if two extreme situations are dramatically replaced into our daily life like a pseudo-leader. Daily life is meant to be overflowing with countless totems and magical shamanic acts.
ENVy⁷, 7 to the power of ENVy, starts with the complex formula made of numerous mathematical symbols. This mind-breaking formula shows uninterpretable emotions like joys and sorrows. A series of psychological events, when we arbitrarily interpret the situation in front of the other person, often take place in and proceed further with a direction we are not even aware of. This envy is a kind of desire created by the other person who gets jealous/, and this also could be our self-portrait. The complicated title is paradoxical narration that expresses desire and transience that arises from relationships with others. The totality of these desires is a formula that shows the universality of our lives, which leads to the inevitable consequence of ephemerality and the true natures of these signs are revealed in this exhibition.
Human beings are certainly economical animals, as every human behavior is based on economic activity. The activities including what we eat, wear, and where we live originated from an exchange. So, what are we actually exchanging it? The winner of capitalism needs to consume something in order to fulfill one’s desire, and the consumption is to say the exchange in this case. When the exchange has been successfully processed, as we cannot control the catharsis, we bear a full of smile on our face, showing that we have fulfilled our desires at last.
Here, the artist focuses on the symbol of a trademark as the factor of exchange, instead of money or goods. Acquisition of the trademark, in which everyone is willing to own, has the same status as the fulfillment of desire, which is apart from a representative signifier, such as a shipping bag dotted with trademarks. To determine, what is real is not important. Brands are now just an arbitrary representation like languages, and for example, only the signature symbol of Levis’ red label is an object of desire.
The fulfillment of these desires becomes a big laugh, pours out into the streets, and makes everyone happy with holding the brand signatures. People are no longer interested in the goods; obsessed with only their brand names which are left void laughing.
Even though the individual manjoies that satirize contemporary consumerism including brand power, express multiple meanings ambiguously which mentioned above; when they exist as if they are infinitely multiplied and surround us with the same faces, it can reveal what the artist truly wants to express. That is what is called ‘FEAR’. The artist shows the moment of fear when we perceive something unknown in the abyss of emotions and the expressions we have not captured.
The skeleton doesn’t think. Skeleton is just a basic structure that composes our appearance. What makes humans look like a human is a skeleton. The shape of the skeleton is intended to distinguish humans from other species and does not allow individual identification of various body elements that put on it. The artist’s Skeleton contains such a meaning. The morphological universality of the human skeleton makes the same appearance of people who do not have any distinction between each other.
The skeleton thinks. The skeleton is not just the basic structure of the appearance. The reason why people are distinctively different lies in the abstract freedom of the skeleton. As Lefebvre said that “art tries to maintain or restore unity through representational space”, the skeleton as a sort of space announces the birth of a new representational space at the moment when accepts abstract freedom along with death. Inside the space, we can see the distinct group of people.
The skeleton is vain. After death, only space remains where the organic contents were displaced. Whether the space is filled with something abstract or filled with organic organs, the only void remains at the end. What survives the constant struggle between life and death as contradictions denying each other's existence is emptiness. Even if we don't force ourselves to die, this void can be faintly found in the numerous skeletons.
The thoughts found in Walter Benjamin’s book, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1935) motivated Jimin Kim’s artwork. The ideas are still similar to nowadays, in which the artwork lost its pure aura as photography was invented and mass-production products were delivered everywhere through rail. Another era of technological reproduction has arrived, in which the two-dimensional, flat print of photography shows three-dimensional solidity. In addition, the easy accessibility that anyone can create artwork indicates that we may ask the question, how the art that lost its aura will transform itself.
However, Jimin Kim asks how it secures the social issue of making 3D replicas easily. It is a complex development that encompasses the reproduction method using the new technology shown in the production process of his object, the production method that everyone can easily access, and the mechanism that can temporarily become an organic material. This artist’s method of creating sculptures that distinctively characterizes from traditional methods shows the extreme examples of what Benjamin predicted, the current state of the art which is permeating through the public and losing its aura.