Weaving The Light | Artist Kimsooja 김수자
Follow South Korean artist Kimsooja into an underground water reservoir where she “weaves with light” while tapping into East Asian philosophy “reflecting our selves, our fortune, and our universe.” The world of textiles rooted in the handicraft of Korean tradition is at the centre of Kimsooja’s work. When given the possibility of making an installation in a huge underground water cistern full of darkness, she “immediately thought of doing a light project”, she explains, calling it a “light laboratory”. “As I have been doing many projects in relation to sewing and weaving or wrapping, all related to textiles in a way, those questions have been reached to the point that I call my project with the light ‘Weaving the Light’.” For Kimsooja, weaving has a profound meaning related to human existence: “Weaving is in a way breathing, it is living in a way because we don’t stop when we weave as if we breathe. Weaving is constant action, constant evolvement, and constant answer and interaction”. The rays of light dividing into colours have a special meaning in Korean: “For Westerners, you say rainbow colours but equally, we have a word in Korean called ‘obangsek’. “‘O’ means five, ‘bang’ means directionality and ‘sek’ means colour in Korean. So Obangsek means five directional colours “, and the colours represent South, North, East, West, and white as the centre. When using these five colours, Kimsooja reflects water, fire, earth, and air, but also different tastes like sour, bitter, sweet, and the seasons. All in Korean related to Confucianism and Taoism and some part from Buddhism: “East Asian philosophy, that consists of our selves, our fortune, and our universe. That is why I have always been using this colour pattern, not because I particularly like the colours itself, but because of the idea and the concept of it,” she says. Kimsooja’s woven light patterns embrace the idea of the other: “It always indicates the other, because, without the other, we cannot weave. I think it is the nature of life.” Kimsooja (born 1957 in Daegu, South Korea) is a South Korean, multi-disciplinary conceptual artist based in New York, Paris, and Seoul. Her practice combines performance, film, photo, and site-specific installation using textile, light, and sound. Kimsooja's work investigates questions concerning the conditions of humanity, while engaging issues of aesthetics, culture, politics, and the environment. Kimsooja’s work has been shown at major institutions over the world, including MoMA PS1 in 2001, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 2015. She represented Korea for the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. She participated in documenta 14, in Kassel, the ANTIDORON – The EMST Collection in 2017, and has taken part in international biennials and triennials in Busan, Venice Gwangju, Moscow, Istanbul, and Manifesta 1, 1996, among others.