Kimsooja is an artist based in New York, Paris, and Seoul, who gained international recognition in the ’90s following a MoMA PS1 residency in New York. This period prepared the way for some of her most famous pieces to date: Bottari, Cities on the Move—2727 Kilometer Bottari Truck, and A Needle Woman, all of which have been shown in numerous exhibitions and biennales around the world. Bottari Truck consisted of a truck loaded with bottari (Korean for “bundles”) that travelled across Korea for eleven days.
The notion of the bottari as a whole or totality and the concept of sewing have been the central focus of Kimsooja’s work for over three decades. Raising various questions about the formal aspects of tableau, sculpture, object, performance, and installation, the bottari explores issues dealing with the body, the self, and others, and the relationship of yin and yang to life and death.
Following the Bottari Truck project, Kimsooja further developed the concepts of the bottari and sewing in a more abstract sense through the video performance series A Needle Woman. In this body of work, the artist stands with her back to the camera, remaining still against the tide of humanity flowing around her in the major thoroughfares of various cities around the world. In a subtle but powerful way, Kimsooja, who works primarily with video, performance, installation, and photography, has become a respected artist in her discipline by taking up sensitive themes such as identity, migration, gender, and sociopolitical and cultural issues while exploring problems of form and immateriality in contemporary art. Kimsooja’s experimental approach forwards a conceptual, logical, and structural investigation of painting, sculpture, performance, video, and installation through a practice of immobility and non-doing that inverts the notion of the artist as the predominant actor or protagonist. Addressing issues of the displaced self, Kimsooja’s work invites us to question our existence and the major challenges we face in this era.