CUE Art Foundation is pleased to present Mother-Land, a solo exhibition by Myeongsoo Kim, curated by Michelle Yun. Using photographs of stamps, postcards, and landscapes, Kim’s sculptural collages reveal the ways that seemingly unrelated phenomena—and how they are represented in visual culture—are deeply entangled. Images sourced from personal experiences and geopolitical events are dismantled and reconstructed to explore how both landscapes and nationality are manufactured through considerations of the difference between an object and its image.
Braided into Kim’s work is the idea of synchronicity, when events happen simultaneously and appear to be connected in a significant way, but have no clear causal relationship. In Mother-Land, the artist includes photographs of landscapes from the American Southwest along with his childhood collection of commemorative stamps released by the South Korean government leading up to the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics. Images of once popular vacation destinations such as the man-made Salton Sea, in reality now marked by deteriorating ecological and social conditions, are juxtaposed with a selection of images from his commemorative stamp collection portraying primarily white masculine athletes frozen in scenes of exertion. Juxtaposed and stratified, the images represent the ways in which popular culture has been used as government propaganda to influence collective values and desires from an early age. In particular, he considers images that breed false narratives surrounding certain events and places—narratives that eventually collapse.
Kim’s collages appear to always be returning to something: circular cut outs, the moon and stars, eyes, water, strata. His work mirrors the fragmented quality of memory through the use of repetition, digital collage, found images and objects, and layered architectural displays. In turn, the renderings become more difficult to read as the legibility of the imagery is diminished. In her exhibition catalogue essay, Re’al Christian writes, “In this process, the fragile power of the fetish object is ruptured. For his exhibition at CUE, Kim reconstructs sites, both physical and metaphorical, where the soft power of cultural exchange and the hard power of military dominance have become intertwined. In focusing on the propagandistic power of images, he considers the effect of visual culture on spaces that bear remnants of colonial influence.”
Myeongsoo Kim studied architecture in his native Korea prior to coming to the United States in 2002 to pursue visual art. In 2009, he received a BFA with a concentration on sculpture, followed by an MFA from Yale University in 2011. At Yale, he deepened his investigation into the connection between a desire to revive and relive memories and the constantly changing nature of the materials which act as conduits for transference and recollection. Since 2011, he has been actively producing and showing work in Brooklyn, NY. Most recently, he participated in the 2019 BRIC Biennial at BRIC in Brooklyn, NY, and the Brave New World Photo Festival at the Seoul Museum of Art in Seoul, Korea.
Michelle Yun is Senior Curator of Asian Contemporary Art and Associate Director of the Asia Society Triennial at Asia Society Museum. She is responsible for overseeing the modern and contemporary exhibition program and the museum’s permanent collection of contemporary art. Formerly, she has served as the Project Director of Cai Guo-Qiang’s studio and as a Curatorial Assistant in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in addition to organizing numerous independently curated exhibitions. Yun is a frequent lecturer on modern and contemporary Asian art and her writings have been included in many publications including No Limits: Zao Wou-Ki; Nam June Paik: Becoming Robot; and Treasures of Asian Art: The Asia Society Museum Collection, all of which she also co-edited. Yun earned her MA in Modern Art and Critical Studies from Columbia University and her BA from Mount Holyoke College. She is a graduate of the Getty Leadership Institute’s Executive Education Program for Museum Leaders and sits on the advisory board of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.