1.) Korea became split in 1945 during World War II. The USSR Occupied the North and The US occupied the South. South Korea is known as the Republic of Korea and is located on the eastern side of Asia. The country is well developed and has a really high standard of living. Most of the citizens in South Korea are Christian and the rest are mostly Buddhist. Traditional culture is shared between North and South Korea, but the culture has grown in different ways in both countries after the split. Korean art originally focused on Buddhism and Confucianism, but now has a much more global approach. They borrow aspects from western art and subjects from around the world. The artists have a very advanced education, and explore all types of materials and mediums. Korea is a big player in the art world.
2.) The Korean Pavilion of 2013 is an installation and a performance piece at the same time. Kimsooja was the only artist representing Korea in the Biennale. The first part of the exhibition is much like a piece that Kimsooja did in Madrid in 2006. The piece was called “To Breathe – A Mirror Woman” and it involved applying a light refractory film to all the windows and Mirrors to the floor. The result of her applications is a colorful light filled experience. The sound of the artist breathing is playing while viewers interact with the installation. The 2013 pavilion’s exhibition is called “To Breath: Bottari” and it builds on the previous one by adding a second room to enter after experiencing the stimulating light and sound. The second room is an anechoic chamber which is a dark room that has achieved complete silence and darkness. You can’t see your own hand, and the only sounds you hear are the sounds from your body. Bottari is a term that means bundle and is a popular concept in Kimsooja’s work. She is bundling together two spaces that are extreme opposites. In most work she would wrap up a bottari in traditional Korean bed sheets or clothing, but in this exhibition she is wrapping an alternate reality up in a film covered structure.
3.) This was a very successful show in my opinion. It was a great execution of a visual and audial experience that doesn’t stay the same at any time. It was a good choice to leave the whole pavilion to Kimsooja because this installation wouldn’t have been the same with other elements in the space provided. It was effective and only contained elements that were needed. The concept of polarity is something that is done quite often in art, but it’s rare that you actually get to experience and feel polarity. Normally you only see how an artist represents opposites visually, but what makes the pavilion special is that it engulfs you and requires a physical change in space to experience the opposites. If Korea’s goal is to put exceptional art into the world Kimsooja was a great choice. She presented a really simple concept in a way that makes people interact and experience her work. Kim demonstrated that she doesn’t have to rely on traditional materials or methods of creating art.
This pavilion could be enjoyed universally without much explanation. Some might say that a universal art piece would be bad to represent a country, but this pavilion didn’t step away from being Korean. A piece of art that can fit in anywhere is proving that the nation’s methods are advanced and ready to be considered a global style.
4.) Kim Soo-Ja was born in the city of Taegu in 1957 and started getting in shows around the 1980’s. She started her website when she discovered that the three individual parts to her name could be fused into a single word name. She goes by Kimsooja because it isn’t tied to a gender, marital status, or identity. “A One-Word Name Is An Anarchist’s Name” was the first statement when opening up her website. Kimsooja resides in three different continents at this point in time. Seoul, Paris, and New York are her current homes. She has travelled a lot and most likely has a great view of the world as a whole. Her work has been displayed at multiple biennials’ around the world. Kim didn’t feel like she was an artist making art until she abandoned traditional practices such as painting, and started using light, sound, fabric, performance, and other non-traditional materials. Her minimalist style usually has a limited amount of elements in a given piece, and only includes elements that are completely necessary. Her idealistic piece would be one with zero presence of the artist who created it. She just wants her work to exist as art and not as a product from her hand.