When I write about myself, I always write something fictional, unconsciously, because I cannot remember every detail. So I realized that fiction always emerges from the process of collecting and archiving. It becomes found fiction. Something is found, and from there, fiction emerges. I like observing this process unfold within defined systems.
The subjects of collecting are not merely objects, but engaged situations, memories within. They are firmly stuck into the context but ironically it creates another fiction in such processes — the duplication rather than the original; the part rather than the whole; the dissolution rather than the restoration; the shape or outline rather than the materiality. I believe this process, dealing with those collected materials is comparable with the writing autobiography process ×
De A. à Z, by Raoul Bonnaffé, Li Yu and Lise Armand
Falling in Love With, by Yigang Xing, Florian Eberhardt and Cyril Quenet 11 I often practice this idea with students in workshops. Your Autobiography is the very first version. Here is the short introduction of the workshop -- The workshop Your Autobiography is not just about ‘autobiography’ itself, it is rather about miscellaneous ‘collection’. What do you collect? What does the collection mean to you? What does ingathering bring to you? No matter what the answers are, one concrete fact is that collecting is based on ‘memory’. The memories are re-constructed and re-edited by process of collecting behavior. The materials for collection are based on memories and objects of truth from the past. But once implicated into a part of collection, they are turned into subjective matters. Often the group of miscellanies is fictionalized in unexpected tone. (...) : self-confession with fictional structures. George Perec’s semi-autobiographical novel, W, or the Memory of Childhood ×
22 In 1979, an interview with Georges Perec calls significant idea on ‘autobiography’. Once he confessed that he doesn’t have any memories in childhood and admitted the impossibility of autobiographical work. But on commenting experience of participating in a TV program, La Vie filmée (The French on Film) — this film is constituted with various montage of amateur films between 1930 and 1936 in France — he felt as if he and his family were existed in that film, since one of the films took place in the part of town that he grew up. And he almost rediscovered his own life-story. This experience influenced his work, W, or the Memory of Childhood and he made film about Ellis Island with Robert Bober later. gave me an insight.
Na Kim’s statement on found fiction× remains a core concept throughout her work. Her practice could be understood as uncovering and coordinating what is ‘found’ through the process of revisiting her own collection and archive. The records and collection of her personal memories and experience are sampled and reedited, and through this process, create new context and unfamiliar scenarios. Kim condenses and reconstructs the objects and situations encountered in everyday life, and translates those memories into abstraction ×. This process at times proposes new functions by transforming familiar objects into unfamiliar forms, or at other times, shifts objects and events into a new space and time, uncovering autonomous rules in the process × 33 Django Fontina could be an interesting example. This work is the selective collection of postcard from various occasions: such as personal regards, event announcements, artist’s collections, touristic souvenirs, advertisements etc. By re-arranging those happenings for more than five years, it constructs an informative Django Fontina of daily life and exploration. All postcards were collected between August 2006 and March 2012. The postcards, only smaller than the publication format, 130x200 mm are included. The order of the cards is followed by an ambiguous sequence..
This text is excerpted from Graphic Design Fiction written by Sungwon Kim for Na Kim’s solo exhibition Bottomless Bag, 2020.
In 2012, I spent about two months in a tiny room in the museum, which was my participating work for an exhibition called, Life A User’s Manual×
44 (...) The exhibition, Life A User’s Manual, focusing on domestic designer and architects, starts from this point. Asked of the meaning of design today, reflecting on domestic design, and reestablishing the relation between design and life, may be grandiose. And, I do not pretend this mere exhibition can dresses such issues and give answer to them. The exhibition gives domestic designers freedom to escape from commodity design, tis regulations and rules, strategies can be linked to our lives. The show enables creative, experimental design between the plethora and deficiency of design. (...)
Excerpts from Life A User’s Manual text by Sungwon Kim. For this show, I was asked to make a piece for myself as a designer — we assume that designers, in general, create something for others but the curators wanted to show the diversity of ideas in between design and art. At the moment, I was about to move from Amsterdam×
Studio portrait at Zeeburgerpad 53. With Janna Meeus, Hilde Meeus, Karl Nawrot, Jens Schildt and Matthias Kreutzer. to Seoul, and I wanted to capture this ambiguous state and replace it in the white cube. For the show, I collected materials× that describe the daily life in the studio in Amsterdam and every single stuff in the moving process. Several new-built pieces of furniture with some personally used objects for the temporary studio and the 53 days of being in the museum became my work, called Transitory Workplace, 53×
Transitory Workplace, 53 installation view. During the exhibition I realized, the collected materials in this designed structure obtain an unexpected situation in another context— mainly with interaction with visitors and conventional regulation× of the public institution. I thought this was an interesting moment to think about collecting ‘situation’ and investigate the after-life of collecting× .
In the late 1990s, contemporary artist Jorge Pardo constructed a house for himself in a project entitled 4166 Sea View Lane 55 https://www.trulia.com/p/ca/los-angeles/4166-sea-view-ln-los-angeles-ca-90065--2077453237, which was presented as part of his solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. The house and furniture, which were constructed from California redwood, were presented as “an exhibition, artwork, and house where the artist resides.” Was this ‘house’ by Pardo a work of art, architecture, or a place of living? Pardo is also often described as a designer or architect. If the artist’s oeuvre, which essentially merges the realms of art, architecture, and design, simply expanded on what William Morris and the Bauhaus artists achieved a century ago, it would not be considered as noteworthy in any sense. However, Pardo’s emphasis on defining himself as a sculptor goes beyond the issue of identity. It means that his artistic concepts and works must be considered in the context of sculpture. Once his ‘house’ is understood as a sculpture, it can resolve the problem of reality and representation in art in a completely different way from other sculptures in the past. For example, if artworks in the past contemplated how reality can exist within art, Pardo’s work questions how art can exist within reality, or in other words, inside the social realm. In the artist’s house-sculpture, the spaces of reality and artwork intersect/coincide; it is a place where the public (museum) and private (individual) spheres, life, and art (representation) coexist. In his body of work, architecture and design serve as resourceful tools to experiment with the problem of representation within the realm of reality.
Design is practiced in the realm of reality, and therefore has a different function and purpose from art, which exists in the realm of fiction. Design does not represent reality, but operates within it. Na Kim’s practice begins from this very questioning of the conditions and limitations of design. The core concept of her work is to create an encounter between design and fiction. How does design construct fiction? How can design exist in the world of fiction?
Transitory Workplace, 53 directly reflected the temporary and unstable circumstances of her transition and readjustment by turning the exhibition space into a studio/office. This idea, naturally, allows for the public and private space–time to coexist. During the exhibition period, the space served as the designer’s studio/office, and the viewers became her contacts and potential clients. Na Kim’s Transitory Workplace, 53
66 Moving somewhere is entrusting the body to a time of ‘uncertainty’. It is same no matter if the place one moves is familiar or how one becomes habituated to unplanned life. While preparing the exhibition, coincidently, I migrated back to Korea ending many years of life in the Netherlands. The ‘anxiety’ I felt before entering the track of a new physical environment quite naturally summons the space of memories. Can I concretize abstract uncertainty with physical space and daily action by setting up a provisional workplace between studio in Amsterdam and Seoul? Transitory Workplace, 53 restores the past by using objects I used at the studio in Amsterdam, reconfiguring my memories. This will be a new work with a function necessary for my individual needs. This work presents working activities in a temporary situation at a provisional workplace, and encounters of others with diverse purposes.
Excerpts from Artist’ note by Na Kim for Transitory Workplace, 53 is a work which experiments with the fictional possibilities of design. In other words, it envisions a space and time where fiction and reality coexist, and at the same time strives for a distinct mode of design practice—and a mode of existence as a designer—that differs from real life. The method through which Na Kim utilizes the system of art and references its concepts does not attempt to break down the boundaries between design and art; such traditional notions of boundaries disappeared long ago. Just as Pardo experimented with art’s resistance in the social realm, Na Kim tests design’s resistance in the world of fiction.
This text is excerpted from Graphic Design Fiction written by Sungwon Kim for Na Kim’s solo exhibition Bottomless Bag, 2020.▶× ▶×
Recently organising the things in my archive, I found a letter 77 In the Asiana Airlines website, the service is described like below; “Handwritten letters have become a thing of the past in the modern era, so take this chance to write a heartfelt letter to someone you miss dearly.” I’d written to myself on the plane back from New York to Seoul. I’d heard about this special service that sends letters you write on the airplane, and I decided to try it out. That kind of thing happens sometimes, where I have a weird curiosity and put it into practice. I’d forgotten all about it, and then I found the letter. You know how when you write a letter to yourself, you tend to write some pretty embarrassing things, like in a diary? I thought it would be like that, but it wasn’t. Only a line of numbers tells the exact time that I wrote this letter.
A while ago, personally I visited Le Havre and wandered around Colours on the beach
. Unconsciously I collected several stones×
nearby the cabins on which the colourful paint stain was left behind. The stones are on my desk now as a special souvenir from the trip and remind me of the moment of facing his work at the beach. I often define the act of collecting is to recall the memory and connect the fragmented dots in personal time. For Karel Martens’ exhibition Still Moving
99 https://platform-l.org/archive/detail?archiveNo=383 , I want to make an ephemeral object as well as an homage to his installation. These reproduced stones, called Colours from colours on the beach×
1010 A while ago, personally I visited Le Havre and wandered around Colours on the beach. Unconsciously I collected several stones nearby the cabins on which the colourful paint stain left behind. The stones are on my desk now as a special souvenir from the trip and remind me of the moment of facing his work at the beach. I often define the act of collecting is to recall the memory and connect the fragmented dots in personal time. For Karel Martens’ exhibition Still Moving, I want to make an ephemeral object as well as for an homage of his installation. These reproduced stones, called Colours from colours on the beach, reactivate the experience and share this memory with others. This is one of Souvenir series, connecting the memory and space through found objects since 2017.
From artist’s note by Na Kim, reactivate the experience and share this memory with others.
Once I had a conversation with a critic, and she compared my work process as finding a ‘souvenir’, quoting Rem Koolhaas’ image of it in Delirious New York× . The modernist architects experienced the impossible future with the imagination, getting back with souvenirs, which became their works that try to change the reality. Instead, from the daily experience in the present, taking a journey to the past and getting back with souvenirs. Indeed, often they are ephemerals with personal memories like snapshots.
Found Composition× represents a form of compositional practice or drawing work in which flat, colorful items encountered by the artist on a daily basis – from the stickers sold at stationery shops to packaging and freely distributed flyers – have been rearranged on A4-size sheets of paper. Each of the individual compositions implies the specific situation when the artist discovered the materials inside of them, along with her personal reminiscences of cutting and pasting them. Moreover, the stationery items themselves – with the same simple colors and forms that Na Kim has regarded as a source for her artwork – also provide a glimpse of the history of the 20th century, as experimentation with abstract art and modernist design were popularized through mass production and differentiated into global vernaculars. Yet Found Composition has not been composed with the monuments of Bauhaus, the hieroglyphs of popular culture, or the encrypted diary. Its aim is to reactivate the process of abstraction that suspends the semantic level in terms of the given visual form and accentuates its basic elements and the syntactical level of their organization – building a visual language that facilitates formal transformations.
This text is excerpted from Exhibitions: A User’s Guide in the June 2020 issue of Art in Culture written by Wonhwa Yoon. 1111 Wonhwa Yoon is an independent researcher, art writer, and translator based in Seoul. She is the author of Picture, Window, Mirror: Photographs Seen in the Exhibition Space and On the Thousand and Second Night: Visual Arts in Seoul in the 2010s (both published in Korean) and the Korean translator of Friedrich Kittler’s major works including The Optical Media and The Discourse Network 1800/1900. She also co-curated Human Scale at the Ilmin Museum of Art and co-produced Soft Places for the Seoul Mediacity Biennale 2018.
The exhibition space thrown at the artist is an irreversible premise that becomes the physical form to hold the artwork with. But when the signification of this physical space is erased from the picture, can its existence alone carry out the function as an artwork?×
7200--1165 (left), Entrance 3 (middle), 950--2052 (right). Installation view of Choice Specimen, 2014, Seoul. Or, would perceiving that space and the certain objects that constitute the space as ‘media’ behold any signficance as an act of art?×
Parking lot (left), Entrance 1 (right). Installation view of Choice Specimen, 2014, Seoul.
Na Kim has surfed these waves of change as she explores valid methods of effecting creative work. Depending on the context, she has worked as a designer, design curator, artistic director, and artist – but she does not exactly adopt different ‘accounts’ to manage her activities according to the subfield, medium, or function. The totality of what we find in Kim’s work does not stem from the self-identification of an individual or subfield; it is something shaped by the process of repeatedly encountering and responding to new demands and conditions. Before attempting to justify her work in the context of artistic discourse or raising issues with regard to its discursive conditions, she seeks to conceive of something that is meaningful to her and that actually operates within its concrete context and a practical situation in which multiple individual parties are intertwined.
This text is excerpted from Exhibitions: A User’s Guide in the June 2020 issue of Art in Culture written by Wonhwa Yoon.