Sung Hwan KIM

At Media City Seoul 2010

Washing the Brain and Corn (2010)

single-channel video & sound, dimensions variable

Seoul Museum of Art, Gallery 2-F

Artist Profile

Born 1975; Lives and works in New York and Amsterdam

Sung Hwan Kim has simultaneously taken on the multiple roles of director, editor, performer, narrator and poet and developed an art format integrating of performance art and video. His performances comprise various media, including film, video, drawing, writing, concert, music and costume. This experimental format incorporates stories originating in various other contexts—such as happenings, rumors, history and mythology—and produces dream-like and poetic visual manifestations of them.

The artist’s new work, Washing the Brain and Corn is exhibited in a single-channel video format. As stated by the artist, the inspiration for this work came from the poem “Leichen-Wasche” (Corpse Washing) by Rainer Maria Rilke. The poem’s treatment of corpses, which the artist interprets as objects which can invent new stories even after death, presents a link to a legend with which his generation is intimately familiar: the story of a South Korean boy whose mouth was said to have been ripped open by North Korean spies for saying “Nan kong san tang ee sil uh yo” (“I don’t like Communists”). Here, the artist focuses on the ironic circumstances under which such a story is disseminated; after one person’s mouth is damaged, the story about that damaged mouth is then conveyed by several other mouths, initiating a ripple effect of the story’s influence which spreads, transforms or becomes extinct alongside changes in time and space. A girl appearing in the work is the artist’s niece, a second-generation Korean-American who is removed from the story in terms of time, location, culture, and language.

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