The Family Picture (2014)
Can blood ties withstand the passage of time?
A tribute to the idyllicism and idealism of the posed family portrait, The Family Picture questions whether blood is stronger than water.
Shinwook Kim contemplates the disintegration of the bonds between members of his own family, one of whom has been diagnosed with cancer and has only months to live.
This six-image series raises a critical lens to the convention of photographing a family portrait: an occasion where relationships are frozen, flattened, and transformed into glossy, coloured paper. As he projects his own family portraits onto sheets of ice, their figures and colours, which once seemed so fixed, slowly contort and dissolve.
Does the ice blur the images? Or does it reveal an internal truth? A deeply personal reflection on the volatility of human relationships, The Family Picture's mirage-like images also provide a reflective surface for us to contemplate our own family ties.
Ferryman, 00:02:55, Single Channel Moving Image, 2014
The river is the locality of journeying. The river is the journeying of locality.
– Martin Heidegger, Hölderlin's Hymn “The Ister”
Dislocation and de-location are notable threads in Shinwook Kim's Messenger films. When he is not studying, Kim works as a tour guide, ferrying passengers to and from London airports. Grass Messenger (2013), Ferryman (2014) and North Sea (2014) have all evolved out of his experiences. The Messenger (2013), which is something of a prelude to the series, records Kim's life on the road, perpetually in transit and dis-placed.
Kim also draws on French anthropologist Marc Augé's theory of 'non-places' to conceptualise his work. In his seminal text, An Introduction to Supermodernity, Augé cites airports and motorways as examples of non places. For a filmmaker who spends many of his hours travelling on motorways between airports, this theory is understandably stimulating. Kim uses the floating, deterritorialised (and deterritorialising) medium of film to meditate on the dialectical relationship between inside and outside, and between place and non-place.
In Grass Messenger (2013), Kim grafts earth from his own garden in London onto either side of the road (and non-place) that divides Belgium and Germany. He then removes earth from this borderland and replants it in his garden, and finally projects his recording of the operation onto the face of a mountain in his native Korea. North Sea (2014) follows a kindred storyline, although the artist's attempts to transfer sand from his garden onto the Dutch North Sea shore are met with the dislocating force of swash and backwash.
By secretly moving earth between countries at night, and by embedding projected recordings of these clandestine operations into his films, Kim repeatedly conjoins foreign landscapes and thus enmeshes inside and outside. And as one scene is overlaid with another, the artist's image becomes distorted. Glimmering and kaleidoscopic, yet shadowy and vague, he moves fluidly through these interwoven landscapes.
Alluding to the transportation of souls (in limbo) along the River Styx in Greek mythology, Ferryman's embedded footage of a boat passing between Belgium and Holland is projected onto the wall of a mountain cave. Like roads, bodies of water provide connections between places, but their own status as places is uncertain. Although politically and topographically defined, they are also constantly shifting and transforming.
Heidegger, in his documented lecture series Hölderlin's Hymn “The Ister,” tells us that 'rivers vanish and are full of intimation.' And in this respect, they share the magnetic and fascinating qualities of film. With its ebb and flow of colours and decibels, the flickering film screen, like the river channel, seems always on the verge of being filled and emptied, fluctuating between bounty and desolation.
When recorded on film, a scene can be animated and recontextualised infinitely and anywhere. As Kim infuses places with the sights and sounds of non-places, and as he merges inside and outside on camera, he offers us a glimpse of the world in a grain of sand.
School of Humanities
MA Photography, 2014
- BA Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, University of London, UK, 2012; BA (Hons) Photographic Art, Kaywon School of Art, South Korea, 2006
- (SOLO Exhibition) Photographic Images of Fish and Shellfish in Korean Classical Painting, MOKSPACE, London, UK, 2012; 2014 New Hero!, 'Public Art' Selected ArTst Exhibition, NEMO, Seoul, South Korea, 2014; Young Art Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan, 2014; UMIT PRESENTS 16MM FILM, BL-NK, London, UK, 2014; RCA Secret, Royal College of Art, London, 2014; World Emerging Aristst Exhibition, Selected by AAF Milan, Superstudio Piu, Milan, Italia, 2014; mport/Export, Tornio/Harparanda, Northern Media Culture Association 'Magneek', Finland/Sweden, 2013; Splinter, Michael Hoppen Gallery, London, UK, 2013; Night break, MOKSPACE, London, UK, 2013; The Others, Hanmi Gallery, London, 2013; Contemporary Korean Photo Exhibition of Four Young Photographers, Guardian Garden, Tokyo, Japan, 2013; RA Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK, 2013; NordART 2013, Budelsdorf, Germany, 2013; 7th International Arte Laguna Prize Finalists Exhibition, Venice Arsenale, Venice, Italy, 2013; Artists in Action for education, MOKSPACE, London, UK, 2013; OPEN PLAN: Nomadologies, 55 Grace church street, London, UK, 2013; Work-in-progress Show, Royal College of Art, London, 2013; 14th Photography Criticism Awards winning Exhibition, Iyang Gallery, Seoul, South Korea, 2013; Take a View, National Theatre, London, UK, 2012; Recent Graduates Exhibition, curated by Jessica Hall, Battersea Evolution, London, 2012; ‘クラウト [cloud/crowd] LE DECO gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 2012; EWAAC Art Award exhibition, La Galleria, Pall Mall, London, 2012; 70 ARTISTS 7 DAYS, Regent’s Canal Festival, London, 2012; 2012 Undergraduate ExhibiTon 2012, Goldsmiths, University of London, 2012; ‘NOW IS WHEN’, Come To Revolution café, New Cross, London, UK, 2012; ‘4482’, [Map the Korea] Barge house, London, UK, 2012; 'ACROSS THE BORDER', Gallery 27, Kyungki-do, Korea, 2006; Group Show, Dongduk gallery and Gallery 27, Seoul, Korea, 2005
- Royal College of Art Overseas Student Bursary Award, 2014; Finalist, Magneetti's Import/Export, Tornio/Harparanda, Finland/Sweden, 2013; Royal College of Art Fine Art Bursary Award, 2013; Winner of 'The British Institution Awards', RA Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, UK, 2013; Finalist, NordArt2013, Germany, 2013; Finalist, 7th International Arte Laguna Prize, Italy, 2013; Monthly Art Magazine ‘Public Art’ selected New Artist Award, South Korea, 2013; Finalist, Portfolio-Review, Duesseldorf Photo Weekend/Kraut Magazine, Duesseldorf, Germany, 2013; 14th Photography Criticism Awards, Photo Space, South Korea, 2013; EWAAC Art Award, UK, 2012
- Interview 'Monthly Art Magazine Public Art Invite New Artist’, Korea, 2013; Landscape Photography of the Year: Collection 6, , 2012, p97; the article of ‘Freshwater fish of Korea’, Monthly Photography, Korea, 2006; 'Art in Culture’, Interview, Korea, 2006