Kimsooja (b. 1957)
A Beggar Woman - Cairo (2001)
To Breathe: Invisible Mirror/Invisible Needle (2005)
Kimsooja was born in 1957 in Taegu, South Korea. She earned a BFA (1980) and MA (1984) from Hong-Ik University, Seoul. Kimsooja’s videos and installations blur the boundaries between aesthetics and transcendent experience through their use of repetitive actions, meditative practices, and serial forms. In many pieces, everyday actions—such as sewing or doing laundry—become two- and three-dimensional or performative activities. Central to her work is the “bottari,” a traditional Korean bed cover used to wrap and protect personal belongings, which Kimsooja transforms into a philosophical metaphor for structure and connection. In videos that feature her in various personas (Needle Woman, Beggar Woman, Homeless Woman), she leads us to reflect on the human condition, offering open-ended perspectives through which she presents and questions reality. Using her own body, facing away from the camera, Kimsooja becomes a void; we literally see and respond through her. While striking for their vibrant color and density of imagery, Kimsooja’s works emphasize metaphysical changes within the artist-as-performer as well as the viewer.