By Soyoun Kim

Independent Artist/Curator

Solo curated photographic exhibition ‘I, there, here’

I, there, here is a photographic exhibition of a personal journey of searching for one’s identity through selected works that 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 from the familiarity of people and places known for years and find a new place to stand. This social and cultural dislocation brings a sense of absence in a new community.

In this exhibition, I try to convert this invisible absence into visible proof of existence through the visual language of self-portraits and landscapes. The space explores the traces and memories contained within. The self-performed image is drawn from my 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 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 expects 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 Australian landscape. The blending and shifted colour with the crossing processing technique express emotional colour rather than the real colour of the landscape.

Easter Picnic, Hope is the artist’s journey for hope based on my experience of an injury. Referencing Edouard Manet’s painting The luncheon on the grass (Dejeuner sur l’Herbe 1862), I portray injured myself and another myself recovered a year later. These two wrapped faces symbolise the unforeseen and unexpected future. Easter represents the time of hope after overcoming obstacles and hardships 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, in which each participant is only capable of seeing the end of the previous word or image as contributed by the previous person, without knowing a whole picture. This technique reflects 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 examine 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’ to express confused identities through dislocation in Self, with flowers.

3 Wise Monkeys examines perceived identities in the current society of vast information. Online platforms such as Facebook and Instagram influence the way of perceiving ideas and information through the instant reception of photographs and words. This tends to lead to an illusive reality with preconceptions, rumours and misunderstandings and even results in violence. I appeal to step forward with a 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’ in 3 Wise Monkeys, is expressed further in I want to be in Peace not in Silence. Sheep have a general concept of being meek and mild animals in a peaceful manner, but they have horns to protect themselves and fight against any harm which might affect them. A 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 sheepskin, I am shouting for true peace.

In the DUST series, dust symbolises 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 natural 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 protection, but the thick layers of dust stay within me.

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

Birds represent a 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 in conflicts as a form of extreme nationalism and racism. These conflicts have been reiterated throughout the history of 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 will 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 as a male. The Birth illustrates two identical female human figures who create an egg together as the symbol of the birth of life. The Korean myth of the founder of the Silla dynasty also tells the story of King Bak Hyeokgeose born from an egg.


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

Exhibition ‘Passage to Pusan’

I was given an opportunity to realise the visual exhibition Passage to Pusan as a solo curator and artist commissioned by Korean Cultural Centre Australia. The multi-media project includes a documentary film that also shares the same title as the book by Louise Evans.

Through six photo-media installations, the exhibition tells the story of the relationship between a Korean war widow and an Australian mother who lost their loved family member during the Korean War; the story of the special connection between two families crossing cultural boundaries that have grown stronger from generation to generation; and the story of the friendship between two nations of Australia and South Korea during the time of hardship.

My Trip  여행 일지

Thelma Healy’s red travel diary opens the story as the first part of the installation in the same way the diary motivated the author to write her book, Passage to Pusan. The story unfolds chronologically like pages on the book, beginning with Thelma’s diary and ending with her granddaughter’s book. When this enlarged book format work is folded, the pages overlap as multi-layers, connecting the story crossing time and generations. Viewers who never have read the book would be introduced to the story through this work, comprising both archival images and recent photographs taken during the author’s visit to Korea in 2017.

'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 democracy in Korea during the Korean War from 1950 to 1953. Each soldier’s name is typed one by one with a wholehearted appreciation for their sacrifice. They are engraved gently on the traditional Korean paper, ‘Hanji’, which embraces the names with its 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), is 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 their places. Born in Sandgate Australia, Vince died in Korean War 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 boat symbolises a journey: Thelma’s journey to Pusan began by boarding an ocean liner. Water is the ocean crossing between Australia and Korea. Water is tears shed by the sadness of losing family members and the happiness of gaining friendship. Water is the medium of connecting two layers of past images embedded in the ceramic and floating present-time images on the water. The water in the boat also connects present time, allowing the viewers to reflect 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 printed on transparent sheets are layered with the old family photographs printed on Hanji to evoke the emphatic sense of the words through the visual images. Reading these emotionally 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.

'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 them 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 at 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 under the 38-parallel line and the armistice agreement since 1953. I hope there will be no more innocent victims under the name of war. I hope the world 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

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