KIMSOOJA sitting on a bridge in New York, 2007. Photo by Jaishri Abichandani for ArtAsiaPacific.

Where I Work


USA Korea, South

Although Kimsooja began her artistic practice in Korea in the 1980s, it was not until the early 1990s that the rest of the world started paying attention to her work. During a residency at PS 1 in 1992-93, Kimsooja began to shift away from making the elaborate fabric constructions that had occupied her for the better part of a decade toward her signature use of bottari, bundling used clothes in brightly colored Korean bed covers to produce a minimal sculptural form redolent with associations to the human body and the passing of time, yet packing a strong chromatic punch recalling more painterly traditions. Shortly after returning to Korea, Kimsooja produced her first video, Sewing into Walking (1994), a pivotal springboard into the video installations for which she has since become known.

More than most artists, Kimsooja has taken to heart the idea of global citizenship. Her peripatetic practice has led her to locations as diverse as N’Djamena, Seoul, New York, Rio de Janeiro, Kathmandu and Mumbai to produce contemplative environments that are at once beautiful, yet riven with the tensions of contemporary urban life.

Since the late 1990s, she has been based in New York where she occupies a simple spacious studio near the Bowery and Chinatown. Standing in modest contrast to the texture and subtlety of her videos, Kimsooja’s utilitarian studio has simple white walls. The hum of fluorescent lights is relieved by two windows along the west wall that now fall in the shadow of the new New Museum of Contemporary Art building, slated for completion later this year.

More a production office than an atelier, the room reveals little of the artist’s process. There is minor clutter of souvenirs or inspirational objects trouvée. Mostly, the room hums with the quiet business of project coordination as well as photo imaging and architectural modeling for site-specific works.

Dividing the space in two is a tall bench and a cluster of computers where the daily administration takes place. On one side of this bench, a long shelf holds Kimsooja’s catalogs and books; on the other there is a simple round white table where she holds meetings and interviews. Along the north wall a suite of trans-mounted photographs documents her monochromatic video projection La Respire/To Breathe, presented at Teatro La Fenice in Venice for the Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation in 2006. Framed posters from several of her European exhibitions rest on the floor and on countertops around the room.

When asked what she thought of her studio, Kimsooja responded, “My body is my studio. I get a lot of ideas when my body is moving. Whenever I am in transit, I feel the contrast of my body against the landscape. I get most of my ideas this way.”