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May 13 2011

Book Blog: When Things Are Done Again

by Sahar Baharloo

When Things Are Done Again by Sung Hwan Kim. March 29, 2010.

In this week’s Book Blog, we’re covering When Things Are Done Again, a zine by New York- and Amsterdam-based Korean artist, Sung Hwan Kim. Kim created a delightful merging of the ideas of John Locke (i.e. the social contract we make to ensure we live in a state of order instead of a state of nature) with the aesthetics of David Shrigley (i.e. scribbles) along with some analysis of current American politics thrown in. 

Kim begins by addressing the individual’s relationship to law and government. While thumbing these first few pages I thought, “That’s cute,” and then I found myself nodding and thinking, “Oh, yeah! That’s totally right!”  

The diamond shape, representing “the law,” appears throughout the book. 

I feel like I encounter people like this everyday while walking to the subway. 

Thanks to the law, we have water fountains. 

The rhythm and the pacing of this book makes it feel like it was created by a filmmaker. And in fact, though he works in a variety of media, video is where Kim thrives. In this zine, Kim weaves together a number of vignettes and motifs: drawings of individuals interacting with the law; photos of a young girl and dogr (one of Kim’s frequent collaborators); abstract drawings and paintings; and conversations between the artist and dogr about healthcare, politics, performance and desire. 

My favorite image in this book: “civil war.”

The text says, “a musician dogr, stands behind a girl.” 

A discussion of Obama’s proposed healthcare plan. 

It’s unclear if the sections where Kim and dogr are having a dialogue about Obama’s healthcare plan is in earnest, or if the reader is supposed to interpret their conversation as a performance. One of the themes that Kim often explores in his work is the distortion of information as it passes through time and various media. Another common thread in his work is the blurring of fact and fiction. Questioning what is meant to be read as informative text and what is meant to be seen as a performance makes these sections more interesting.

If you would like to learn more about Sung Hwan Kim, you should pick up AAP‘s May/June issue (now on newsstands), which includes a feature article on his work. And if you can read Czech (and who’s to say you can’t?), check out Prague-based tranzitdisplay, who published this book. 

Book Blog is a weekly showcase of book design from ArtAsiaPacific’s areas of coverage and is written by AAP’s designer, Sahar Baharloo. All images were taken by our photo editor, Alis Atwell.

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