Solo curated photographic exhibition ‘I, there, here’

I, there, here is a photographic exhibition of a personal journey of searching for one’s own identity through selected works which have been created over the decade.

Moving from one place to another is excitement with the curiosity of life and an unexpected adventure. At the same time, it is an emotional challenge to depart the familiarity of people and place that are known for years and find a new place to stand. This social and cultural dislocation brings the absence of being an individual identity in a new community.

In this exhibition, I have tried to bring this invisible absence of being into visible proof of the existence through body language and landscape. The self performing image is a reflection on the situation I am experiencing and the space where I am interacting. And these symbolic gestures expend to the current issues addressing the notion of humanity. The space explores the traces and memories contained within.

I would like to connect the viewers with my journey using the visual language through this exhibition.

I there here by Soyoun Kim
Serenity series © Soyoun Kim

Serenity series is the photographs taken in my hometown in Korea. This disaster of a fire from an unknown cause erases the marks and memories of the space but creates a serene atmosphere. The newly built building is expected to start a new story within this place.

Dreamfield I  depicts my first encounter with Australia as an expatriate, overlapping my body language and the Australia landscape. The blending and shifted colour with crossing processing technique expresses emotional colour rather than real colour of the landscape.

Easter Picnic, Hope is the artist’s journey for hope which based on my own experience of an injury. Referencing on Edouard Manet’s painting The luncheon on the grass (Dejeuner sur l’Herbe 1862), I insert myself who was injured into the photography and another of myself who was recovered one year later. These two wrapped faces symbolise the unforseen and unexpected future. The Easter represents the time of hope after overcoming the obstacle and hardship in the artist’s journey.

I there here by Soyoun Kim
From left: ‘Easter Picnic, Hope’ ‘3 Wise Monkeys’ ‘Serenity’ ‘I want to be in Peace not in Silence’ © Soyoun Kim

Cadavre Exquis I is a montage interpretation of my identity based on personal preference. I depicted this ideal fantasy and dream in the way that I approached the drawing ‘Cadavre Exquis’. The title, meaning ‘exquisite corpse’ comes from a technique used by the Surrealists to create a collage of words or images, which each participant is only capable of seeing the end of the previous word or image as contributed by previous person. This technique is reflected in the process of creative collaboration under the same name, which I have employed in this project.

This montage image is applied as dissected physical body parts in confined boxes to exam a physical identity  in Cabinet of Curiosities of Identity, as cuts and layers to rearrange the figure in Madonna, Munch, Self and as multiplied or divided several ‘I’s to express confused identities through dislocation in Self, with flowers.

Those perceived identities in current society of vast information is examined in 3 Wise Monkeys. The online platforms such as Facebook and Instagram influences the way of perceiving ideas and information through the instant reception of photographs and words. This leads to an illusive reality with preconceptions, rumours and misunderstandings and even results in violence. I appeals to step forward with clear vision of the mind like these 3 wise monkeys.

I there here by Soyoun Kim
From left: ‘Bird Net’ ‘Dreamfield I’ ‘ Cabinet of curiosities of identity’ ‘Madonna, Munch, Self’ © Soyoun Kim

This silence of ‘no speak’ of 3 Wise Monkeys, is explained further in I want to be in Peace not in Silence. Sheep have a general concept of meek and mild animals with a peaceful manner but they have horns to protect themselves and fight against any harm which might affect them. The society with acquiescent silence without speaking out truth and unfairness would create illusive and temporary peace and is expected to collapse eventually. Covering myself with a sheep skin,  I am shouting for true peace.

In DUST series, dust symbolise the invisible harm factor, resulting in the victim of unfair treatment against human rights; We breathe the dust polluted air of the development without concerning the nature environment and human condition; Victims of violence of terror are covered with dust from the destruction of buildings. I try to remove the dust and cover myself with plastic sheets for the protection but the thick layers of dust stays within me.

I there here by Soyoun Kim
‘DUST’ ‘DUST, Still’ © Soyoun Kim

Birds represent possible harm factor in Bird Net as bird net is used for protecting plants from birds. In this global society, the closed boundary under the name of protection for each nation, can result conflicts as a form of extreme nationalism and racism. These conflicts have been reiterated through the history in the world. It might suggest the conflict in human nature of belonging and intolerance of being different. Birds take fruits from trees and spread the seed to grow the next generation of trees and it keeps flowing the life circle of nature. The open cultural exchange would generate more beneficial profits for each country and individuals to grow future development if we blur the boundary with a harmonious solution.

I there here by Soyoun Kim
From left: ‘Self, with flowers’ ‘The Birth’ ‘Bird Net’ ‘Cadavre Exquis I’ ‘The Birth’ ‘Bird Net’ © Soyoun Kim

The most recent work, The Birth restates Michelangelo’s fresco painting, Creation of Adam in which God breathes life into Adam as the first human being who is described as a male body figure. The Birth illustrates two identical human figures who create an egg together and it’s result is symbolized by the family of chickens. An egg also is described as the symbol of birth of almighty human being in Korean myth of the founder of Silla dynasty in which the King Bak Hyeokgeose was born from an egg.

Artist and Curator, Soyoun Kim


Exhibition : 5 February – 2 March 2019  Ladder Art Space Melbourne Australia

Exhibition ‘Passage to Pusan’

Australian journalist Louise Evans found her late grandmother, Thelma Healy’s little red travel diary written with ‘My Trip’ on the cover. Thelma wrote about her brave solo journey to war-torn Pusan, now Busan, in South Korea where her late son is buried. This heart-warming story led Louise to write the book ‘Passage to Pusan’ after collecting family documents and sharing memories and stories along with laughs and tears with the Healy family.

Vince Healy, the first child of Thelma Healy was killed in action during the Korean War in 1951 and was buried in the United Nations Memorial Cemetery, Pusan, South Korea. Vince’s death broke Thelma’s heart and robbed his nine siblings of his much-needed financial and emotional support. Being a poor mother with nine other children to feed, it took Thelma 10 years of backbreaking work to save up enough money to make her 8,000km pilgrimage from Brisbane, Australia to Pusan, South Korea to be spiritually reunited with her golden-haired boy. This story moved deeply the Korean War widow Mrs. Kim Chang Keun when she read about Thelma’s journey in a Korean newspaper. Mrs Kim recognised the grief and suffering of a bereaved mother forever separated from her son and his grave, and vowed to become Vince’s Korean mother. She wrote a letter to Thelma, asking to visit Vince’s grave on her behalf. They became pen pals and shared the sorrow of losing a loved one. Mrs. Kim met the Healy family in Brisbane for the first time in 1989, long after Thelma’s death. The extended Healy and Kim families met a second time in 1999 when Mrs. Kim was invited as a guest of the Australian government to attend Anzac Day ceremonies. Mrs. Kim’s granddaughter, Grace E Kim and Thelma Healy’s granddaughter, Louise Evans met for the first time in 2016 in Sydney, where they both live, following Louise’s publication of the book ‘Passage to Pusan’ which explores the close bond between their grandmothers.

This special relationship of an Australian and Korean family continues and has grown stronger from generation to generation. To share this extraordinary story, the Korean Cultural Centre Australia has created a multi-media project ‘Passage to Pusan’, visualising it in a documentary film and an exhibition. And I have been the part of this project as the curator and artist, creating the exhibition. Exhibition ‘Passage to Pusan’ is the photo-media interpretation of the book by Louise Evans of the same title, creating a visual language in communion with the book, family photographs, diaries, letters and memorabilia. The book tells the beautiful relationship between two mothers who lost a loved one, between two families crossing cultural boundaries, between two nations of Australia and South Korea during the time of hardship. These layers of the story and the relationships have been linked as one through six creative installations.

‘My Trip  여행 일지’

Thelma Healy’s red travel diary opens the story as the first part of the installation, in the same way as the author Louise Evans began her book ‘Passage to Pusan’ with this diary. The story unfolds chronologically like the book’s printed pages displayed on the wall and the story is layered when it is folded in the form of a book. This visual storytelling book rejects the boundary of a beginning and an ending of the story, and tells the story with connections and continuity like the folded pages of the book.

'My Trip  여행 일지' by Soyoun Kim, Giclée print on Hahnemühle Museum Etching paper, Lamda photo print and foam board with gold colour
‘My Trip 여행 일지’  by  ©Soyoun Kim, Giclée print on Hahnemühle Museum Etching paper, Lamda photo print and foam board with gold colour , 81.4(h) x 1307(w)cm

‘Thank You  감사합니다’

340 Australian soldiers died fighting for the democracy in Korea during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. Each name of the soldiers is typed one by one with wholehearted appreciation for their sacrifice. All names of soldiers are embraced gently on the Korean traditional paper, ‘Hanji’ with it’s warm texture. To mark the beautiful national relations, the Australian national flower, Golden wattle, is arrayed on the top left and the Korean national flower, Hibiscus Syriacus (무궁화), on the top right.

(from left) Thelma Healy's travel diary,   'My Trip  여행 일지' by Soyoun Kim,   'Thank You  감사합니다' by Soyoun Kim
(from left) Thelma Healy’s travel diary, ‘My Trip 여행 일지’ by © Soyoun Kim, ‘ Thank You 감사합니다’  by © Soyoun Kim – Inkjet print on Hanji (Korean traditional paper), 270(h) x 210(w) cm

‘Relations 인연’

There are five ceramic boats in this exhibition : Vince Healy, Thelma Healy, Mrs. Kim Chang Keun, Sandgate & Pusan, and Korea.

Each boat tells the story of the journey of these people and places. Born in Sandgate Australia, Vince died fighting for democracy in Korea and was buried in Pusan where the Korean War widow, Mrs. Kim Chang Keun, laid flowers on his grave on behalf of his mother, Thelma. The five boats are all on a journey together creating beautiful relationships. The boat symbolises that journey. Thelma’s journey to Pusan began by boarding an ocean liner. The layers of images are the layers of these stories, connecting time and space. Water is the medium of connecting these layers of the stories. Water is the tears. Water is the ocean crossing between Australia and Korea. The floating images on the water of the boat connects present time, allowing the viewers to reflect themselves on the water.

‘ Relations 인연’ has been created with the collaboration of the ceramic artist Somchai Charoen based on the project during the residency in ‘Belmore ITCH’

'Relations 인연' by Soyoun Kim with Somchai Charoen Ceramics with photo image transfer, water, inkjet print on bamboo fabric with embroidery hoop 30(h) x 50(w) x 30(d) cm each
‘Relations 인연’  by © Soyoun Kim with Somchai Charoen , Ceramics with photo image transfer, water, inkjet print on bamboo fabric with embroidery hoop, 30(h) x 50(w) x 30(d) cm each

‘Dear  친애하는’

There are eight letters : two letters from Vince Healy to his mother Thelma, one from Vince to his siblings, one from Vince to his youngest sister Monica, two letters from Thelma Healy to her children, two letters from Mrs. Kim Chang Keun to Thelma Healy.

The original letters have been layered with the old family photographs to evoke the emphatic sense of the words with the visual image. Reading through these emotional written conversations, love and caring are present. There is no explanation to add when reading every letter’s ending of Vince with the touching greeting to his baby sister, Monica : “P.S. How are you cheeky Monica?”

'Dear  친애하는' by Soyoun Kim Inkjet print on Hanji (Korean traditional paper) and polyester clear film 120(h) x 60(w) x 8(d) cm each
‘Dear 친애하는’  by © Soyoun Kim ,  Inkjet print on Hanji (Korean traditional paper) and polyester clear film ,  120(h) x 60(w) x 8(d) cm each

‘For Vince  빙스를 위해’

Vince Healy was killed in action at Maehwa Mt. South Korea during Operation Woodbine on 7 March 1951 at the age of 24. Since he was buried at the UN Memorial Cemetery in Pusan South Korea, there have been five significant visits to Vince’s grave.

The first visit was Vince’s brother James Healy on 15 March 1956 when he was serving in the army in South Korea. And 10 years after Vince’s death, her mother Thelma Healy visited her son’s grave on 1 May 1961. After reading the story of Thelma’s pilgrimage to her son’s grave, Korean war widow Mrs. Kim Chang Keun visited Vince’s grave on the behalf of Thelma. On 24 October 2011, Vince’s sister Geraldine and her son, Colonel Patrick Evans, visited Vince’s grave when they were invited by the South Korean Government as part of the commemorations for 60th anniversary of the Korean War. On 17 May 2017, Louise Evans, Vince’s niece, Geraldine’s daughter and author of the book ‘Passage to Pusan’, visited Vince’s grave. Here those visits have been arrayed next to each other to connect the families crossing time and also to indicate them as continuous events rather than a separate one. There were much more than five visits. Mrs. Kim Chang Keun visited Vince’s grave on his birthday and UN Memorial Ceremony Day every year except when she was sick in bed until she passed away in 2014. And there are unknown Korean visitors, appreciating Vince’s sacrifice for the land where they stand and live peacefully. We kneel at Vince’s grave. We kneel at the Australian soldiers’ graves.

'For Vince  빙스를 위해' by Soyoun Kim Inkjet print on Hanji (Korean traditional paper) 200(h) x 400(w)
‘For Vince 빙스를 위해’  by © Soyoun Kim ,  Inkjet print on Hanji (Korean traditional paper) ,  200(h) x 400(w)

‘Love & Peace  사랑과 평화’

We lay a white chrysanthemum on each grave of an Australian soldier who died while fighting during the Korean War to wish their peace and to console their bereaved families. We appreciate their sacrifice for democracy and peace. The white chrysanthemum symbolises appreciation and sincerity and Koreans use them as condolence garlands in funerals where they share the sorrow of losing loved and respected ones. Mrs. Kim Chang Keun also laid white chrysanthemums on Vince’s grave with love and appreciation.

The Korean peninsula has been divided in two with the 38 parallel line and the long armistice agreement since 1953. We hope there would be no more innocent victims in the name of war. We hope the world will be filled with peace and selfless love.

'Love & Peace  사랑과 평화' by Soyoun Kim Inkjet print on Hanji (Korean traditional paper) 200(h) x 400(w)
‘Love & Peace 사랑과 평화’  by © Soyoun Kim ,  Inkjet print on Hanji (Korean traditional paper) ,  200(h) x 400(w)


'Dear  친애하는' by Soyoun Kim,  'Relations 인연' by Soyoun Kim with Somchai Charoen
Exhibition view at the Korean Cultural Centre Sydney Australia  (from left)  ‘Dear 친애하는’ by © Soyoun Kim,  ‘Relations 인연’ by © Soyoun Kim with Somchai Charoen
memorabilia display,  Vince Healy's favourite song 'Goodbye' from the operetta 'Whitehorse Inn' became the Healy family's anthem
(Left) Display of memorabilia along with original newspapers and photographs taken by Vince Healy ,   (Right) Vince Healy’s favourite song ‘Goodbye’ from the operetta ‘Whitehorse Inn’ became the Healy family’s anthem

Exhibition : 23 June ~ 1 September 2017, Korean Cultural Centre Sydney Australia