March 2017: Woomin Kim

In Blog, Photography, Reviews By by Haley Kedziora On May 15, 2017



 Woomin Kim, Unknown Species Installation View




Woomin Kim combines woven sculptures and documentary photographs in an exhibition that investigates the relationship between modern society and the natural environment. Kim’s work oscillates between the relative familiarity of humanity and the strangeness of nature. A room is filled with soft, furry objects that very nearly fulfill the conventions of a domestic space- a patchwork of rugs lay on the floor, while framed photos, coats and sculptures reminiscent of hunting trophies are mounted on the wall and shapes that may or may not be body parts lie quietly on the floor. The atmosphere is comforting in its softness; there are no hard edges, no towering forms. The materials and scale of Kim’s work hides connotations of violence, subtly blanketed by the act of its displacement, or removal, from nature. Upon further inspection the shapes on the floor are dismembered body parts: a lost set of antlers, a severed tail, and another object indeterminate but equally maimed. These pieces are constructed from the shorn hair of fur coats, which hang bald on the wall in contrast to the fuzzy planes spread out on the floor. Her photographs are self-portraits—nude, except for a mask made from the artist’s own hair. The sight of this primitive figure contrasts the interior environment of a modern-day abode, bringing to light dichotomies between animal and human, habitat and home, and the brutality that occurs from man’s self-imposed disassociation from the rest of the natural world.






 Woomin Kim,”nknown Species, shaved fur coats, animal fur (fox, rabbit, racoon, mink, lamb, squirrel, dog, unknown), dimensions variable, 2017.




In Unknown Species, Kim collected used animal fur coats, shaved them, and harvested the fur. Stripping the coats of their intrinsic value yields an eerie, anthropic patchwork of skin, the resolution of a past violent encounter. The coats hang in a close row resembling a display of trophy animals, or even an executional lineup. The color palettes of the coats consist of natural tones that are intermittently contrasted with furs dyed hot pink or bright turquoise, further delving into the assimilation of nature into commodity with it’s unnatural hue interrupting the softness and familiarity of real animal fur.






Woomin Kim, ”Unknown Species”, “Atrophy #2″, beaver fur, 81x50x32 cm, 2016), 2017




The shaved fur was gathered and transformed into multiple sculptural components, some woven into larger textiles and the rest spun into thread and crocheted into forms to resemble various animal body parts. Displayed intermittently throughout the exhibition the soft, inanimate sculptures convey an unnerving reminder of taxidermy. The woven textiles lay composed like a patchwork puzzle in front of their former resting place, the bare coats. The furry nature of the material contrasts with the blunt harshness by which it was removed, resulting in a glimpse into the violence to nature performed by man.





Woomin Kim, ”Habitat”, inkjet print, 91x56cm, 2017




In her photographic series Habitat Kim documents herself in her private, domestic environment, adorning only an entirely-encompassing head mask created from the artist’s own hair. The portraits show a hybrid animal-human creature in a calm contemporary environment – sitting at a cluttered work desk, lounging on a couch. Of the three portraits, the most captivating is the shot of the artist looking at her own reflect in the mirror; the reflection stares back at Kim, back out into the audience. The world looks upon this as a moment of self-revelation—she looks at herself as human and animal simultaneously, both natural and disguised. The thematic element of hair becomes the connective component in describing a duality of man and beast in Kim’s installation, ultimately revealing the minimal yet prominent difference between the two worlds.






Woomin Kim, ”Habitat”, artist’s hair, fabric, 30x28x38cm, 2017