Interview with Myeongsoo Kim

Pooja Kakar: What do you have in mind for “DiA on the LILAC”?

Myeongsoo Kim: Well, I have lots of things in my mind, but for some reason, they are pretty hard to say. And probably that is because I don’t know what exactly I am thinking. It is always hard to figure out what I have in mind, especially when I have to say it to someone.

PK: How are you planning on utilizing the unique space on the LILAC to showcase your work/create an experience for the viewer?

MK: This is an exciting opportunity for me since I have never done any kind of site-specific project. And that is even more so why I am having hard time figuring out what I have in mind. Most of my work I have created in a very spontaneous way. I don’t usually make work with any specific objective. I call myself a great collector of many things, but I am a collector not because I love to collect things. I am a collector because I can’t throw stuff away.

PK: Could you explain your process—from the inception of an idea to its execution in an exhibit, in greater detail?

MK: My process in creating work is very similar to the way I have become a collector. I notice something around me and give it recognition. It is sort of like picking an apple at the farm, but rather than picking up an actual apple, I notice other things around me, such as dried leaves for my book, a wildflower for my girlfriend, abandoned beehives for leftover honey, saving an earth worm from the deadly direness of Fall, a broken tree branch for a silly swing, and maybe a little beetle for playing with. So, in the end, I’d perhaps call my work ‘picking an apple at a beautiful farm,’ but I’d use all of those things in that work, not an actual apple.

PK: Your recent projects appear as kind of oblique portraits (“The fortune tellers house” and “Carlos”) what was your objective behind these pieces? They also have some similar elements, what was the process in culling objects for each project?

MK: When I had a dream about my good friend Carlos, I made a piece about that dream. The dream wasn’t something special. It was just a strange dream, like any other dream I might have any night, but something kept dragging my ankle the next day and the next day. Then suddenly, Amazon suggested for me to watch a movie called “Carlos” (it is about a notorious terrorist in 60’s, often called ‘the Jackal’). This coincidence may sound too easy or simple to be considered an art making process, but that coincidence had become too big to ignore when I read an article in The New York Times about the actual “Carlos” a couple days after. He was serving a life sentence in France, and was now being transferred to Paris for another trial. I said “the actual Carlos.” I said it to make a clear distinction between my Carlos and the other Carlos, and I think my piece “Carlos” started from that point when I tried to make that distinction between realization and recognition.

PK: Each installation piece appears to be meticulous and deliberate in nature, what kind of planning is involved to achieve that aesthetic?

MK: I am hoping that producing work could be a joyful thing. I could work on many different things for money, but when I do that I always end up hating it, whatever that is. However, achieving a certain aesthetic has been a purely joyful thing to me. When I don’t think about any objective, I feel free, and it makes me go deeper and further until I get satisfaction.

PK: Where have/do you find inspiration for your work?

MK: I have too many inspirations in my life, so it is extremely hard to pick. However, if I have to mention one, I love islands. Currently I am in love with St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. I spend every hour looking at it on Google Earth before I go to bed.

PK: What are you currently working on?

MK: I am currently working on the piece for “Dead in August.”

PK: There seems to be an element of humor with your pieces, how does this come into play with larger themes in your work?

MK: That is because I find myself to be funny sometimes and maybe so does my work.

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