Ellen Yeon Kim
Within Our Time
Well, well, well. Sit down. Relax. Be tempted while you are at here. Take a sip from your wine. Make yourself comfortable and let everything sink in. Once you get that, you will realize you can always be in control. Can you?
As a TV lying on an armchair you know you can just switch off the screen or change the program, lower the volume. You are in control. Kim’s looped video is playing on the flat screen in a very homely environment, resting on a excesively comfortable armchair with the massage function, and the coat hanger right next to it waiting to be used. In Within Our Time (2015), androgynous hands appear and sew a sausage using a butcher’s hook while a male narrator with toned-down voice tells a story of the time when he was 9 years old. The boy loved to stay in the safe place – his attic. Yet, being too small to completely see through the attics window, all he sees is a flickering street light. The observation of everything from his safe place shaped his life and thoughts, and has kept his mind clear and sane.
With just a slight change of his perspective, what would happen to all the stories about the view-ruling street light? But, as all comes to an end, the person has to admit that this safe place and all its comfort has never really, physically, existed in the first place. The denial of its physical existence does nevertheless not change the mind of that person, that his safe place gives him the utmost comfort that he seeks, at any given point in time, even now.
Typical for Kims work is the search for this thin, blurry line, between reality, control and the most extreme consequences. As in earlier pieces, such as A Guide To Voluntary Terminal Dehydration (2014) the artist does not offer a solution but a drastic way out; not in the act but in the idea that should inspire a better, maybe rational, solution. But as control speaks about personal freedom, what is it that determines this precious feeling of freedom?
The double sided photographic installation Sincerely Yours (2015) essentially functions the same way. We see an abandoned shopfront in a regular british city neighbourhood. A closed turkish hairdresser and an empty shop with a big sign stating that this used to be “Second Chance”. On the backside: the same scenery, slightly tilted and a person passing by. This shop, “Second Chance”, with its grotesque name instantly evokes ideas on the purpose that this facility might have housed. Imagination runs wild and suddenly we are not contemplating about the image in front of us anymore. The artist redirects our thoughts, lets us find the most interesting way out of the image, into our own, made up story; just like the character described in the video. It is not about an existing place, a real story, or facts – it is about a lack of communication between the imagery, the facts and the viewer.
MÉLANGE is of course happy – as is Kim (*1985 Daegu, South Korea) probably – to present her latest, fresh and exciting works.