In a period in which we create cultural and social walls replacing the physical ones the practice of some artists is a real godsend because they teach us the power to create bridges, links, connections. And in this period we need their help and model as a key to go out the crisis and to open to the future with no fear. I meditated on this on the occasion of the Venice Biennial in 1999 when I was bewitched by the extraordinary artworks created by the Korean artist Kimsooja. They are called “Bottari” and were brightly colored and patterned fabric bundles on an old and strange truck. I was very interested in them so they became the key to discover Kimsooja's practice and world. Central in her practice are these traditional bed covers symbolizing life in all its various facets, multiplicity and aspects. These colorful bedspreads embroidered with symbolic motifs signifying luck, long life, sons, fundamental to the traditional Korean culture are given to newlyweds as a sign of good omen but they are also used to protect personal belongings and transport them during displacements becoming a philosophical metaphor of link and connection. Kimsooja's artistic practice with the use of sewing has also to be read as the ability to connect, to join two pieces of fabric that means to connect two ways of thinking, two continents with different cultures, histories and way of life respecting their specificity, in their singularity.
Kimsooja has exhibited in many major museums: Collection Lambert en Avignon (2014); Vancouver Art Gallery (2013), Museum of Modern Art St. Etienne (2012); Kunsthal 44 Møen (2012); Perm Contemporary Art Museum, Russia (2012); Miami Art Museum (2012); Feldkirch Church and Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein (2010); National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea for the Yeong Gwang Nuclear Power Plant (2010); Atelier Hermes, Seoul (2009); Baltic Center, London (2009); Hirshhorn Museum (2008); Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa & La Fenice Theatre, Venice (2006); Crystal Palace of Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid (2006); Kunsthalle Wien (2002); Kunsthalle Bern (2002); Palazzo delle Poste, Trieste (2001), MoMA PS1 (2001). She has taken part to important Biennials: Venice (1999, 2005, 2013), Sao Paolo (1997), Whitney Biennial (2002), Istanbul (1997), Lyon (2000), Gwangju (1995, 2012), Thessaloniki (2010), Moscow (2009) and Poznan (2010).
Bottari Truck - Migrateurs (2007)
artist performance in Paris, 1 ton truck from France (1976 Peugeot 404 Pickup), bottaris, bungee cords. Commissioned by Musée D’Art Contemporain du Val-De-Marne (MAC/VAL), photo by Thierry Depagne. Courtesy of Galleria Raffaella Cortese and Kimsooja studio
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Kimsooja: Thread Routes, 2015
Exhibition at The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain. Courtesy of Guggenheim Bilbao and Kimsooja Studio
A Needle Woman: Galaxy was a Memory, Earth is a Souvenir, 2014
Installation at Intimate Cosmologies: The Aesthetics of Scale in an Age of Nanotechnology, Cornell University, New York. Photograph by Jaeho Chong. Courtesy of Kimsooja Studio
To Breathe: Bottari
Solo Exhibition at The Korean Pavilion, Venice, 2013
Main space: Kimsooja, To Breathe: Bottari, 2013, Mixed media installation with The Weaving Factory, 2004-2013, The artist's voice performance sound, 5.1 channel, 9:14, loop. Anechoic Chamber: Kimsooja, To Breathe: Blackout, 2013, Anechoic chamber in complete darkness. Photo by Jaeho Chong. Courtesy of Kimsooja Studio
A Needle Woman
Installation at Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne, 2013
A Needle Woman, 1999 - 2001, 8 channel video projection, installation view Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne. Photo by Nora Rupp. Courtesy of Kimsooja Studio