KIM MINAE
THOUGHTS ON HABIT
17 OCTOBER - 30 NOVEMBER 2013

HADA Contemporary is pleased to present the first UK solo exhibition by critically acclaimed emerging artist Kim Minae (b. 1981). This exhibition aims to focus on capturing the artist’s fundamental conceptual framework encompassing versatile sculptural and installation works in conversation with the artist self, objects, spaces and contexts within the boundaries of society. By inverting the relational function of the objects within designated context and presenting them to conflictions, she portraits the dilemma that we face in the social system highlighting the often forgotten, unseen and ignored. Kim’s works are self-portraits and visual indicators of unconscious and inadvertent compromises and contradictions that we overlook or fail to notice.

Since 2009, the artist’s monologic narrational works embarked from her personal experience take on abstract structural forms due to her intense desensitisation from the cultural dislocation, which resulted in dramatic pixel-like development of her experiences into abstract images. Until recently, her sculptural structures were often the conversation with a space utilising the strategy of failure to spotlight discrepancies. As Lisa Le Feuvre notes that ‘rather than producing a space of mediocrity, failure becomes intrinsic to creating open systems and raising searching questions: without the doubt that failure invites, any situation becomes closed and in danger of becoming dogmatic.’  Instead of recognising a space as a symbol of social boundary which characterises some of her previous works, the works in this exhibition are unique in further conceptualising the concept of contradiction in the broader context of society as she detaches herself and objectifies, toys and manipulates texts, images and spaces as subject of restraints.

According to B. R. Andrews from The American Journal of Psychology ‘a habit is a more or less fixed way of thinking, willing, or feeling acquired through previous repetition of a mental experience.’  For Kim, the habit extends beyond this regional definition and epitomises inhibitions and conventions of the society that became accustomed to through fixing course of consciousness with repeated social experiences that we unknowingly accede and succumb to. The ensemble of the works generates rare interconnected narrative akin to an immaculate stage design where each works are in dialogue with the other and each elements in a work completes the work of the other. Through refreshing and atypical presentation and juxtaposition of images, texts and frames, she emphasises on the habit on how we see and perceive images and texts.

A gallery space has been a decisive element in her artistic investigation as the foremost place that allows and limits the boundary of her creativity as an artist. Confronting its cultural confinement, in 14 Degrees Off (2013), she rotates the gallery space 14 degrees leftward using handrails to create an alternate imaginative space that viewers can coexist through tactile experience. Through this spatial intervention, Kim brings novel awareness to the objects - walls, structures and spaces - that fail to exist within the realm of our perception due to their perpetual presence. Particularly, their inability to function as handrails accentuate on the concept of the functionality, which is also a result of social habit designed and agreed for pragmatic purpose as a language. Ironically, only then, these absurd handrails become exceptionally effective in its function to recontextualise these hybrid spaces for original perception.

In Two People (2013), Kim displays four distantly similar images of two people that she collected individually, which differ in their type, source, time and motive. This work poses the doubt in the unconscious process of collection that has been preconditioned through the prior visual information and experience that one is accustomed to – in this case, one of her favourite postcard of the two people that artist has kept for several years. Disproportionately framed texts and images from Dia Beacon (2013) decentralise our habit of focus and context and marginalise frames and images allowing the audiences to reinterpret each objects that are in conflict with the convention. Similarly, in Self Drawing Image (2013), the artist rearranges the English translations of the poem ‘Self Portrait (1948)’ by Yun Dong Ju (Korea, 1917-1945) into Korean linguistic order heightening the confusion and the gap deriving from the limitation that language bares. The conversion of each words into image forms by drawing on graph papers alludes magnified and reduced pixelated image in a computer software. Thus alerting the habit of consuming discrepant meaning and contents through visual translation that inevitably fails in-between. As the questionable process of collecting images in Two People, her choice of ‘Self Portrait’ perhaps derives from the artist’s unconscious mental habit as the solemn self-reflective tone of the poem written during Japanese occupation of Korea coincides with the innate introspective nature of her artistic practice. Likewise, the title of the exhibition, ‘Thoughts on Habit’ may originate from the phonetical similarities from the ‘Notes on Sculpture’ by Robert Morris.

In the theory of falsifiability by Karl Popper, what characterises creative thinking within an experiment is the ability to ‘break through the limits of the range’, that is to apply a critical mode of thinking rather than working with the sets of assumptions at hand. In order to do so one must engage with failure and embrace the unanticipated.  Hence, focusing on revealing contradictions moulded by the culture and society, her works are the invitation to break, doubt, question and reperceive the off limits. They are visual presentations of her personal remorse and reflection and at times her willingness for silent accusation and report for action.

Kim Minae (b. 1981) lives and works in London. She received MA in Sculpture at Royal College of Art London and MFA and BFA at Seoul National University. Kim has exhibited internationally at National Museum of Contemporary Art Seoul, Plateau Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, Doosan Gallery Seoul and New York, Gallery Hyundai Seoul, Kukje Gallery Seoul, Gyeongju National Museum, ICA London, among others. Most recently she has been selected as 2013 Young Artist by National Museum of Contemporary Art Korea, Young London 2012 by V22, 2012 Gaswork International Residency, 2011 Bloomberg New Contemporaries UK and awarded 2008 National Endowment Fund for Culture and the Arts, Arts Council Korea and 2nd Prize at 29th JoongAng Fine Arts Prize Korea.