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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