Doi Kim Solo Exhibition: Velvet
ChaShaMa space, New York
January 20 - February 6, 2023
Doi Kim's solo exhibition, Velvet presents works that contemplate our complex relationship with personal and collective traumas through metaphorical storytelling. This exhibition is inspired by the velvet covering a deer's antlers: a thin layer of skin concentrated with blood vessels and nerves that carry nutrients necessary for the antler's growth and protection. A deer's antlers are used primarily for defensive measures, but they are also a symbol of strength and dominance, a sign of the deer's hierarchical standing in their social group. If a deer is malnourished, injured, or stressed, blood drains out of the antlers, and the velvet layer dries and peels away, revealing the mature antler underneath.
The exhibition invites viewers to imagine moments when their own "velvet" is "shed" in traumatic experiences. For instance, her painting Antler (2022) depicts the bleeding antler, shedding velvet and revealing the hardened core. It provides an entry point that leaves a clue to reflect upon how various levels of traumatic experience impact us. Kim's virtual landscapes, depicted in animation, printmaking, and painting, invite viewers to look at personal and collective trauma differently. Her work seeks to connect various levels of "macroscopic" histories with present-day lives, to embody new perspectives on generational pain, and to consider how new insights on trauma might transform our present and future.
Velvet encourages viewers to re-envision the power dynamics of their personal lives and the broader geopolitical landscape, establishing a relationship between past and present from an individual's perspective.
The Hound of the Baskervilles (2018-2022)
Entering the exhibition, the video work The Hound of the Baskervilles (2018-2022) shows a loop of the image of the life of a hound-like creature. The detective novel The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Conan Arthur Doyle, begins with the story of the monster dog that kills the successor of the Baskerville family. In my work, the hound is a metaphor for transgenerational trauma. I am also inspired by the Fukushima nuclear disaster and its ramifications.
The image used in the video refers to a stylized form of medieval painting that was also used in Giotto's frescoes, which depicts events from different periods in one image, not a scene that takes place at one point. In the video, a four-foot monster appears – moving somewhere – and a couple of monsters and their offspring stare at the opposite side as they reminisce. The last scene connects to the first scene and repeats, like the unpromising wait that half-life for radioactive decay requires.
The infinite loop of the images expresses the time and space of an endless loop of suspended life, reproducing death itself. My aim is to propose clues about how transgenerational trauma is inherited and affects the descendants.
The Fifth Child (2020)
The Fifth Child (2020), named after Doris Lessing's 1988 novel, is a series of five lithograph prints. Each print depicts a speculative landscape in which an embryo faces the trauma of former generations while they are in their mother's womb. It also visualizes the birth of a character who can bring chaos to current social situations, a bold new identity who can challenge conservative tellings of history.
The Fifth Child (2020) was inspired by my encounters with the cultural landscape of New York in 2019 when I first moved to the city. I observed that historic trauma forms the basis of many collective identities and shapes the city's geopolitical landscape. It made me think of how each individual aligns or builds their values amid the environment of intense interaction.
In Lessing's novel, The Fifth Child, Ben, the dysfunctional fifth child of the family, gives pain to his parents from pregnancy, eventually destroying their conservative fantasies of a perfect traditional family. Reflecting upon the novel and by taking on the role of an outsider, I explore the individual and collective experiences through the eyes of an unborn being, envisioning a speculative scenario of the birth of a character who can bring chaos to current social situations.
Each lithograph depicts the stage of development of an embryo, visualized using botanical and anatomical images:
The Fifth Child 1 shows an image of umbilical cords.
The Fifth Child 2 illustrates the formation of internal organs.
The Fifth Child 3 implies the formation of a fictional character affected by transgenerational trauma by depicting the image of DNA structure.
The Fifth Child 4 visualizes the formation of a fetus's muscle inside the mother's womb.
The Fifth Child 5 illustrates an imaginary being ready to break out of the womb and be born into the unknown world.
The trauma of the former generation is expressed as intense light, inspired by the dramatic use of chiaroscuro in baroque paintings.
Landscape: Lens (2019-2020) and Antler (2022)
If the two bodies of works described above stated the impact of the past and speculation about the future, Landscape: Lens (2019-2020) accentuates the viewer's physical presence in the exhibition, making them aware of the present moment. Images on the mirrors are landscapes consisting of the anatomical images of the eye, such as the optic nerve, vitreous body, and retina. This work draws subtle movements of eye muscles that occur when viewers focus on the image of the work and change their focus on themselves in the mirror. The drawings on the mirrors serve as a medium, like a lens, to make the viewer aware of the moment of observation, continuously contracting and releasing the muscle around their iris.
Antler (2022) depicts the bleeding antler, shedding velvet and revealing the hardened core. Antler is a clue for reflecting on how various levels of traumatic experience impact us, and stresses the belief that our cells and perceptual states are dynamic and changeable, suggesting a unique way of accepting life.
Altogether, the exhibition “Velvet” 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.
About the Artist
Doi Kim (b. 1995 Seoul, South Korea) is an artist living and working in New York City, USA. She holds a BFA in Fine Arts from the Korea National University of Arts in Seoul, South Korea. She moved to New York to attend the School of Visual Arts, receiving an MFA in fine art in 2021. Her works are grounded in printmaking practice but often borrowed from installation practices, animation, and performance. Her artistic practice presents questions to reinstate the experiential quality of inscribed history to emancipate ourselves from the dominant narrative, which often reproduces inequality in the current world.
Her work has been included in exhibitions at O’Flaherty’s; Project Gallery V; Manhattan graphics center; BWAC; 2022 Screenprint Biennial at Opalka Gallery, Albany, NY and Mirabo Press Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Ethan Cohen KUBE, Beacon, NY; Webber Gallery, Ocala, FL; Susquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, PA; Untitled Art Miami Beach, Miami, FL; Starta Arta, New York, NY; Stone leaf Retreat, Eddyville, NY; SVA Gallery; Rear Window Gallery, Hangzhou, China; Gallery AVU, Prague, Czech Republic; Šaloun Villa, Prague, Czech Republic. She had her first solo exhibition in Seoul, South Korea in 2022 at space xx. She received the Outstanding Achievement Award from the 2022 Tripvill International Film Festival and 2022 RE:SEARCH Grant from Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture.
Doi Kim: Velvet
January 20 - February 6, 2023
5-8 PM Friday, January 20, 2023
266 W 37th St, New York, NY 10018
WED-MON, 1 PM – 7 PM or BY APPOINTMENT
For more information, please visit: https://chashama.org/event/velvet/