Making Doi Kim: Velvet

ChaShaMa space, New York

January 20 - February 6, 2023

1. Garment District NYC  

When I first received the notice that my proposal was accepted for the 266 W 37th St location, I researched the history of the neighborhood, the Garment District of New York. I learned how the show business on broadway, the need to mass produce uniforms for the Civil War, the invention of the sewing machine, and the influx of immigrants formed the garment district. I also learned how the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) was founded and about the horrible industrial disaster like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

At first, I wanted to make the exhibition more engaged with the context of the location, but I had to follow my original proposal to some extent, which was to show the complete series of The Fifth Child (2020). So I thought of a metaphor that alludes to the industry of the garment district and encompasses the keyword of The Fifth Child(2020), trauma and how it forms power dynamics of New York. This is how I came up with the title, Velvet, a deer's organ that grows antlers that symbolize the hierarchy in deer's social group and sheds when the deer gets stressed or malnourished. In addition, there is a velvet manufacturing company established in 1845 on the same street!

2. Antler 0 and Sudarium

The Sudarium of Oviedo is a blood-stained piece of cloth that is thought to be the cloth that was wrapped around the head of Jesus Christ after he died. Sudarium is also one of the emblematic images of early printmakers.
Antler 0 (2023) is a new work made for the exhibition. It is a painting of a wounded and bleeding antler on a piece of linen, referencing the idea of transfer in Sudarium (for example, the ontology of transferred substance/image of the original) and the dire situation the object alludes to. Antler 0 acts a medium that invites viewers to project and reflect on their traumatic experiences. I highlighted this idea of self-reflection by placing Landscape: Lens 3 (2020) next to it so that viewers can see their reflections and perceive their presence in the gallery.

However, on the other hand, from the form to the content, Antler 0 is imbued with the traumatic experiences which I have undergone since 2020. Based on my emotional experience, I made Antler 0, a painting depicting bleeding antlers resembling blood-stained hands holding out toward the sky.
I wrote: "The exhibition invites viewers to imagine moments when their own "velvet" is "shed" in traumatic experiences." Velvet is my effort to move forward, not necessarily with the hopeful belief in resilience but dragging my wounded body, believing the situation will change someday. By curating Velvet, I created a space weaved with metaphorical stories that makes me contemplate and observe how my perception and emotional state are changing while considering the condition of the outside world in which various levels of trauma are embedded. 

3. Exhibition design and metaphorical storytelling

Doi Kim: Velvet presents works that contemplate our complex relationship with personal and collective traumas through metaphorical storytelling. Altogether, the exhibition challenges viewers to reflect on their own experiences while inviting them to look at trauma in a different light, with curiosity. In this way, the exhibition provides a unique opportunity to connect with both history and the present moment in order to find a new perspective on deep-seated pain and its effects and gain insight into how it might affect our present and future. Through this process of reflection and contemplation, Velvet encourages viewers to re-envision the power dynamics of their personal lives as well as the broader geopolitical landscape, establishing a relationship between past and present.

As an artist devoted to 2-dimensional mediums, it took some practice to imagine a way to present works in 3D space successfully. Here are some thoughts to make a somewhat plotless but circulating narrative of Velvet (2023), while trying to make the best use of this triangle-shaped space.

© Doi Kim 2023