Period & Style
This video is excerpted from the Season 5 episode Systems premiering on Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 10pm (ET) on PBS (check local listings). Systems features four artists—John Baldessari, Kimsooja, Allan McCollum, and Julie Mehretu—who invent new grammars and logics, finding comfort in some systems while rebelling against others in today’s supercharged, information-based society. Kimsooja was born in 1957 in Taegu, South Korea; she lives and works in New York. Kimsooja’s videos and installations blur the boundaries between aesthetics and transcendent experience through their use of repetitive actions, meditative practices, and serial forms. In many pieces, everyday actions—such as sewing or doing laundry—become two- and three-dimensional or performative activities. Central to her work is the bottari, a traditional Korean bundle used to wrap and protect personal belongings, which Kimsooja transforms into a philosophical metaphor for structure and connection. In videos that feature her in various personas (Needle Woman, Beggar Woman, Homeless Woman), she leads us to reflect on the human condition, offering open-ended perspectives through which she presents and questions reality. Using her own body, facing away from the camera, Kimsooja becomes a void; we literally see and respond through her. While striking for their vibrant color and density of imagery, Kimsooja’s works emphasize metaphysical changes within the artist-as-performer as well as the viewer.