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Tales That Have to Be Informed

Tales That Have to Be Informed

Stories That Need to Be Told

Minouk Lim, “A Day Far Away” (2022), wooden cane, polyurethane resin, picket hen, metallic plate, 70.87 x 12.6 x 14.96 inches (all pictures courtesy the artist and Tina Kim Gallery, images by Dario Lasagni)

Minouk Lim, a video and multimedia artist, has had museum exhibitions all through Asia and Europe. A decade in the past, the Walker Artwork Middle held the in-depth solo exhibition Minouk Lim: Warmth of Shadows (Might 31–September 1, 2012), curated by Clara Kim. The present featured three large-scale video installations and a sequence of wearable sculptures the museum had commissioned. And but, regardless of this severe consideration, her work will not be well-known in New York. Maybe this can change with Fossil of Excessive Midday at Tina Kim Gallery (Might 1–July 1, 2022), her second solo present with this gallery, and her first in New York since 2017.

Roughly three our bodies of labor comprise this exhibition and on the floor, they appear disconnected. An extended look proves in any other case. In an interview with curator Jessica Morgan, printed within the catalogue Minouk Lim (2017), the artist said:

For a while I’ve developed relationships with victims of torture. Some have been wrongfully accused of being North Korean spies and others have been buddies working in civil rights organizations. I didn’t kind these relationships on account of my creative analysis, however they arose from a deep respect for his or her work and private values. However my private world and desires for a greater future got here again as one thing like a two-edged sword as I realized extra about Korea’s previous. I felt a spread of feelings like touching one thing that emerges from a prohibited excavation website. I used to be haunted by a way of guilt and thriller. […] The entire technique of digging and confronting my discoveries was like a Hydra; the knowledge snowballed and have become very difficult however functioned as a information as effectively. It felt each not possible however doable as I continued my analysis; it was another person’s story however I too felt damage. The previous had been ruined, destroyed, however I felt that I ought to restart and picture one other model.

I’ve cited such an in depth passage as a result of, after taking a look at Lim’s work because it was being put in and being touched by it in ways in which I didn’t have phrases for, I made a decision to analysis her. Lim considers the issues and challenges of exploring traumatic historic and private occasions that she didn’t instantly expertise. I used to be additionally in a position to discuss to her about her work.

Set up view of Minouk Lim: Fossil of Excessive Midday, Tina Kim Gallery, New York (Might 19 – July 1, 2022)

As I did so, it occurred to me that her want to “think about one other model” is a rejection of narrative, with its insistence on a starting, center, and finish, and of the literal. Lim needs to supply a really totally different perspective on how one may cope with a grim historical past whose results proceed to be felt within the current. This historical past consists of the Japanese occupation, the division of Korea into two separate nations technically nonetheless at struggle, and the brutally repressive dictatorship of Chung Hee Park, South Korea’s third president, who declared martial legislation in 1972.

Nearer to house, South Korea’s historical past consists of the bloodbath of civilians (largely farmers) suspected of aiding the North Koreans, and their burial in additional than 160 mass graves, just a few of which have been exhumed, and the 1980 Gwangju Rebellion protesting the South Korean army authorities’s suppression of protests that resulted within the loss of life of between 200 and 2000 civilians, relying on which report you consider. At the moment, a nationwide cemetery in Gwangju and a museum commemorate the rebellion. Might 18 is a nationwide vacation marking this occasion. In 2005, the South Korean authorities established the Fact and Reconciliation Fee to research the interval spanning Japan’s occupation in 1910 to the top of presidency dictatorship in 1993. The USA may study from Korea’s try at self-examination.

Behind the sculptures fabricated from tree branches within the first gallery area is a narrative that must be instructed. They have been initially collected and sculpted by Eui-Jin Chai, a survivor of the numerous massacres that happened throughout the postwar wrestle for Korean liberation and, subsequently, the Korean Battle. The farmers and their households residing within the remoted mountain village of Seokdal-dong have been massacred by the South Korean military, which was attempting to subjugate the individuals and the land it may management — a army motion authorised of and supported by the USA authorities. Chai, who was mendacity by his older brother’s physique, pretended to be useless.

Minouk Lim, “Dudu Mulmul No. 32” (2021), epoxy resin, urethane, plaster, agar, partially eaten waffle, piece of {photograph}, earphones, LED bulb, arm hotter, electrical wire, kangaroo cranium, 10.63 x 52.76 x 15.75 inches

Almost 40 years later, in 1987, to be able to inform the general public in regards to the Seokdal incident, and study extra about what occurred in Korea throughout these years, Chai give up instructing English and began the “Nationwide Affiliation for the Bereaved of the Victims of the Bloodbath of Civilians Earlier than and After the Korean Battle.” He additionally made many journeys to the USA to analysis totally different archives, the place he realized the extent of those massacres, of which the USA authorities was conscious. These killings happened as a result of the individuals have been suspected of getting Communist sympathies.

It was round this time that Chai started gathering wooden sticks from the forest. In accordance with Lim, Chai was initially solely occupied with accumulating, drying, and chopping them. Finally, he made them into canes. By the point he died in 2016, he had carved greater than 1,000 canes, that are within the assortment of the Nationwide Museum of Korean Up to date Historical past.

Lim, who was buddies with Chai and his kids, was given the canes that have been damaged or rotting, the place they lay in her studio for a very long time. Utilizing cuttlefish bones and resin castings of them, hermit crab shells, glass balls, carved picket birds (additionally made by Chai), polyurethane resin, metallic plates, and synthetic hair, Lim protects them from additional decay, and creates the phantasm that they’re sprouting leaves. Leaf-like in form, the cuttlefish bones introduce a number of readings into the work, together with the becoming a member of of earth and ocean, domesticated parrots sharpening their beaks (for which they use the bones), and therapeutic (they’re believed to have medicinal properties).

Set up view of Minouk Lim: Fossil of Excessive Midday, Tina Kim Gallery, New York (Might 19 – July 1, 2022)

By preserving and adorning the canes, Lim creates one thing that may be stated to recollect the previous whereas suggesting that progress, renewal, and therapeutic are doable. Whereas I didn’t get all of this after I first checked out them, they struck me to the purpose that I used to be compelled to start researching them. As I did so, I used to be reminded of Jasper Johns’s remark about utilizing the American flag as subject material — these are “issues seen however not checked out.” Lim extends the parameters of Johns’s assertion to incorporate the fallen tree branches Chai collected, preserved, and finally carved into canes; the artist’s subsequent additions, and use of polyurethane resin to cease time, allows us to see a factor that appears each again and ahead in time, in addition to to think about “one other model” that doesn’t deny what occurred. (This imagining has but to be embraced by Individuals who want to take away books from public libraries and sugarcoat the nation’s historical past.) On the similar time, Lim’s work embodies a counterpoint to the view of the collector as trophy gatherer, as a substitute presenting the function as a short lived guardian of a legacy that should be protected and handed on to the following technology.

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The subsequent gallery encompasses a five-minute single-channel video projection, “Transportable Keeper _Sea” (2020); a freestanding frame-like sculpture (“discreetly,” 2021) strung with fishing line; three sculptures collectively titled Dudu Mulmul; two buoys fabricated from forged resin containing synthetic pine needles, a stuffed Winnie the Pooh, cuttlefish bones, feathers, and shells.

The canes recommend that Lim’s preoccupations embrace the connection between time and preservation, in addition to erosion and our skill to ponder time passing and our place in a altering pure world. Seen however inaccessible inside the epoxy buoy, the Winnie the Pooh provides a be aware of humor and wistfulness, together with a way of misplaced time and innocence.

Set up view of Minouk Lim: Fossil of Excessive Midday, Tina Kim Gallery, New York (Might 19 – July 1, 2022)

Sitting on tables, the works within the Dudu Mulmul sequence resemble three-dimensional fashions of the earth’s strata you may see in a geology classroom or pure historical past museum, and level to the artist’s curiosity in excavation and archives, connecting these works to the canes.

Detritus is encased within the cloudy epoxy resin of those sculptures. (In accordance with the gallery the title means “every part (all beings, be it objects or phenomenons) on this planet,” a phrase derived from the Chinese language.) The sculptures are impure kinds. “Dudu Mulmul No. 32” (2021) comprises {a partially} eaten waffle, a chunk of {a photograph}, earphones, and a cranium — proof of our carbon footprint. Historical past, Lim appears to be saying, isn’t inactive. Nothing is immobile, even issues which can be preserved, because the objects connected to and rising out of those sculptures (in a single case, a man-made frond) attest to. Is that this what we’ve given to future generations? What will likely be our particular person and collective legacy?

“Transportable Keeper _Sea” depicts a number of views of a younger lady in a shirt and skirt swimming, floating, and treading water inside a hoop of buoys someplace at sea: we see her from above, shut up, and under, her legs kicking. Lim provides no clue as to how or why she is there, and to my thoughts these concerns are irrelevant. We see a rubber donkey masks drop to the sandy backside at one level, however the motive for that is by no means defined. It appears to me that Lim is suggesting all of us stay in a state of suspension, concurrently protected (by buoys on this case) and weak. Surviving requires fixed consideration. We stay in a state of suspension because the world hardens round us.

Minouk Lim: Fossil of Excessive Midday continues at Tina Kim Gallery (525 West twenty first Road, Chelsea, Manhattan) by means of June 4. The exhibition was organized by the gallery.

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