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Gallery: Yeji Kim – Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things

Yeji Kim display

Yeji Kim’s exhibition was the first to be held in the KCCUK’s refashioned space. Gone is the Multi-Purpose Space, demolished and reclaimed as an enhanced exhibition area. Screenings and lectures are now downstairs in the library, and one wonders how the KCC will cope with theatrical presentations in the future. Anyway, the larger space works well for exhibitions, and here is a gallery of Yeji Kim’s work, together with the text of the exhibition brochure.

Yeji Kim installation view


Kim is interested in how Instagram users exhibit themselves through online media and so the paintings shown in this room are recreation of images collected by the artist from those platforms. She garnered images of the ‘hipsters’ who are seen as being ‘cool’ in the Instagram world, and then recreated their online expressions through her series of paintings.

Kim explores the similarities between Parisian flaneurs and modern day hipsters whose lives are surrounded by a flood of images. Just like Parisian flaneurs of the Second Empire (1852‒1870) who were mesmerised by the urban spectacle, Kim focuses upon today’s Instagrammers and hipsters and questions the depth of inhabiting online spaces, clicking “likes” or following others and yet somehow feeling emptier for it. Kim suggests that unlike the urban flaneurs of Paris who experienced depression and melancholia from a feeling of separation between their inside and outer world, for the Instagramers and hipsters, there is no inside to separate themselves from the world. Walking between ‘bleached’ images with no mark of time or space, or talking in the visual landscape of flat images, the artist questions how this modern experience is reconstructing the way we view our visual reality.

Flat Lanscapes

Kim’s flat landscape series began when she first moved to London. In a new city, she experienced different surroundings and a new ambience, this has had an impact on her way of sensing the world as well as changing her visual experience of space. This, in turn, has helped Kim to understand the traditional British landscape, and encouraged her to attempt the visual language of realism of Western painting that tries to create a sense of depth by using a one-point perspective system. However, as Kim says, she is “used to the world of flatness from the photo and screen, therefore I failed to create the depth as my works remains slickly slip and flat.” Since Kim’s images are not so breathed in depth but instead pop out from the surface, she therefore cuts the images and re-arranges them in real space. Hence, the flat surface finally becomes an object – a light and slippery textured object without depth.

Video Images

The images in this room are taken from children’s T.V. programmes with each being touchpoints in Kim’s early memories and as such they are items that have impacted upon her ways of sensing the world and her own aesthetics. Most of these stories illustrate a fantasy world that has been created to seduce children and grab their attention rather than depicting a specific reality. To deliver such fantasy worlds characters like monsters or imaginary creatures, various computer graphics, vivid colours, and extravagant costumes are used. However, these techniques only enhance the knowledge that these creatures are just a visual trick. Therefore Kim uses slippery brush strokes and limited colour to depict the texture of an old television show.

Yeji Kim: Video Images (2012-7)
Yeji Kim: Video Images (2012-7)

Drawing / Painting Montage

Kim collects from online sources, various items and fragments of visual debris to create a dynamic montage. The lightness and flatness of Kim’s drawings and paintings creates a special relationship when placed with airy and depthless materials such as abandoned snack packets, and plastic toys made of cheap materials. By placing her ‘flat’ paintings next to these objects Kim is exploring how paintings and different materials can generate a dynamic surface when placed together in a montage.

Childhood images from encyclopaedia

Kim’s early works examine how one’s childhood memories are remembered through specific colours and figures. The paintings in this room are re-recordings of images taken from children’s encyclopedia and school text books from the early 1990’s. Kim is interested in how the world has been recorded, and she is particularly drawn to the low quality of CMYK printing in the old textbooks from her youth and is especially taken by the lack of individuality in the children’s faces in group pictures, and the seemingly endless array of dead fish and insects that are documented in encyclopedia. Such methods of illustration in children’s encyclopedia and textbooks have had an impact on Kim’s understanding of the world.


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