By Soyoun Kim

Photographer, Photomedia artist

Mask: Mapping Melbourne 2020-21

Mask 2020, video 4.02 min. still cut / Taking an ID photo  2020, video 37 sec. still cut
Mask 2020, video 4.02 min. still cut / Taking an ID photo 2020, video 37 sec. still cut

The project, Mask, explores the notion of a mask through self-performed images to refute fixed identity and cultural perceptions based on a person’s ethnic background. It is a great opportunity to realise this project as the part of Mapping Melbourne 2020/2021 program, which shares the same value of advocating the equity of the human being with the perspective of an Asian-Australian.

Mask-toilet paper / Mask-grocery mesh bags (from the photographic series Mask)
Mask-toilet paper / Mask-grocery mesh bags (from the photographic series, Mask 2020) : Nikon D700

The current Covid-19 pandemic appears to offer the chance to reflect on how we live together and it reminds of the deeply rooted racial discrimination. The absurd syllogistic reasoning prejudge people based on their appearance. The project, Mask, refutes fixed identity based on ethnicity through multiple interpretations of a mask and performing body with a perspective of an Asian-Australian:

A mask is to protect from the spreading of the virus.

: It is to protect from the physical and verbal violence on Asian-looking people with the blame of spreading the virus.

: It is a vulnerability of people who are exposed to discrimination like a weaken immune system

: It is a disguise of the selfish act with an excuse of survival and uncertainty of the future.

: It is the beautification of whiter and fairer skin to resemble white Westerners within the Eurocentric concept of beauty and superiority.

: It is a superficial representation of a person regardless of inner character.

The unidentifiable blurring face and damaged Instant ID photographs imply the ambiguity of identity with the debate on the veracity of truth on the visual representation of appearances. Mask advocates the equity of the human being, colliding hierarchisation and binary structure of white and non-white people under the notion of humanism.

Instant ID photo poster 3 / Instant ID photo poster 5 (from the series, Instant ID photo poster 2020):  Mamiya RB67 camera with 4x5" Polaroid films
Instant ID photo poster 3 / Instant ID photo poster 5 (from the series, Instant ID photo poster 2020): Mamiya RB67 camera with 4×5″ Polaroid films

Online Launching Event: 10 December 2020, MAV (Multicultural Arts Victoria)

All works of Mask can be viewed at:

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 new 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 sense of absence in a new community.

In this exhibition, I try to convert this invisible absence into visible proof of the existence through the visual language of self-portraits and landscape. The space explores the traces and memories contained within. The self-performed image is a reflection on my own experience of diverse cultures and crossing borders, as a Korean female immigrant. And these symbolic gestures in the photographs imply current issues such as racism, gender discrimination, social inequity and violence.


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