Minouk Lim Jump Cut
Sunjung Kim, Independent curator
A Moment of Intersection and Transition
Minouk Lim is an artist seeking possibilities of “here and now” while paying attention to the political and social situations in Korean society. Lim perceives “here and now” in Korea not only as a moment of transition open for changes, but also as an intersection where critical decisions should be made on further directions. While observing what is happening in current Korean society, Lim does not separate herself from her environment or objectify it. Korean history has suffered from discontinuity in the course of modernization. Yet, Minouk Lim focuses on the possible dynamics generated from the disrupted process of modernization. By presenting vehicles or their variations, her Rolling Stock(2003) previously suggested the speed as a crucial component of Korean society’s mobility. Jump Cut shown at the current exhibition raises a question on what has motivated Korean society to keep changing. “Jump cut” is a film editing technique, with which a character can be shown as if he/she moves to another time period while keeping the background unchanged. An apparent dynamic jump would move the character to any point in time and place with ease without showing the process involved in the abrupt jump, whose discontinuous flow consequently entails a sense of loss. Minouk Lim directs her attention to modernizing Korean society marked with indecisive attitudes toward adaptation, which has forced sacrifice on the one hand, provided the mobility on the other. By employing jump cut technique that connects discontinuous temporal and spatial fragments together, Lim seeks to create a new mode of communication with the viewer while presenting the collective memories and observations of changes in life.
Although modernization involves dynamic process full of changes, it entails a sense of loss due to the forced elimination along with a huge leap forward. Ironically the sense of loss seems to have compelled to expedite changes. Once changes occur, they tend to continue to accelerate the process to the level which to eliminate the sense of loss with constant and rapid changes. Economic growth achieved during the past several decades in Korean history has disrupted the cultural continuity and entailed the tension between generations deprived of communication. An effort to plunge the inevitable loss into oblivion has aggravated the impulse to change. Minouk Lim asserts that she seeks another way of acting as an artist by “slightly” transforming her way of making art based on her everyday life experience and observations. Several seemingly irrelevant pieces exhibited in Jump Cut demonstrate Lim’s endeavor to make “small” inventions and to reinterpret everyday life. There is a modified sedan named Grandeur, which used to symbolize power and wealth in Korean society. A performance was involved in the car before its entry to the gallery. Some words, no longer in public use, were written in water-based pigment. Driven on the Jayu-ro(Jayu means freedom in Korean) in a rainy day, those words were partially washed out, suggesting faded memories about them. Entering the gallery, the car was modified into a fountain, or transformed into a work of art discarding its original identity. Some pieces address the problems involved in urban development. Piles of broken reinforced glass were reshaped into an architectural structure, implying the permeable border between destruction and construction. Lim also made patterns on huge pieces of faux fur by cutting it out to indicate symbolic sites left along with the myth of economic growth. This work refers to the history of modernization in Korea, which is marked with generational tension, alienation, the fantasy about urban development and disillusionment with it, etc. Lim also presented a well that contains oil and colored water, which create a marbling effect due to the nature of the two different matters. Although accidental visual effects on the surface of the liquid may attract the viewer’s attention, it was intended to suggest the hardship to build a community with people from other cultures. Lim chooses to present the intersection in an indirect way by employing abstract language to indicate obvious subject matters. While integrating rap music and a film that shows a truck trip around Yeongdeugpo area, one of the busiest parts in Seoul, Newtown Ghost(2005) address the disillusionment with the empty promises of urban development. Wrong Questions(2006) refers to the conflicts between generations by drawing on a taxi driver’s murmurs. Jump Cut presents an edited documentary film that shows a daylong festival of multicultural event “The 4th Migrants’ Arirang” in 2008. Along with a re-mix composed of on-site sound and electronic music, this work presents a mixture of still-cuts of seven-year-old girl’s staged act and documentary scenes from the festival. By combining the documentary capture of reality and directed scenes, on-site sound and electronic music, Lim attempts to put irrelevant components together to create an arena in which the viewer would get involved in the open dialogue between art and reality.
Minouk Lim focuses on the intersection, accidental and transitional relationship, and time lag between different cultures. Yet, from her point of view, she approaches social issues such as the different perspectives on life between generations, failed social adaptations, alienation, totalitarianism, the collective faith in economic growth etc. When she returned from France in 1998 upon completion of her study, Lim presented Bus Stops(1998) in City and Image: Food, Clothing, Shelter(1998), an installation pretending to be an advertisement placed at a bus stop outside the gallery. Drawing on an ordinary public space, this work addresses the disturbing dominance of the media in contemporary consumer society. In Social Meat(1999) at the Maronnier Art Museum (now, Arko Art Center), Lim had stored objects transferred from storage to inside the gallery and put them into a public view. She intended to reveal the hidden domain of the museum, that is, its administrative and institutional system. While raising a question on the meaning of art, she addresses the relationship between the artist and the viewer set in the institution of art. Lim has endeavored to make “slight” alterations by exploring given conditions outside the gallery and crossing the border between art and design. She introduced an installation Until Now(2000) with cooperation with Frederic Michon at the 2000 EXPO exhibition in the run-up to the 2002 FIFA World Cup Kroea/Japan. In the evening before the opening of the EXPO, Lim and Michon made photographic records that trade show participants were setting up their booths with promotional displays. On the opening day, they placed those photographs on their installation, which was a bed wrapped with printed photographs penetrated by a constructional structure. She also designed a guidebook of art galleries in Seoul upon the commission of the 2000 Gwangju Biennale organizers. It was intended to create an image of Korea by providing a minimum of information of contemporary art, along with various forms of invented or reinvented vehicles. The images contained in the guidebook were to be integrated into a video work entitled Rolling Stock. Lim has explored the changes and mobility inherent in Korean society by experimenting various mediums and genres ranging from painting to video installation. Through rearrangement and alterations, she has shown the way in which personal stories coexist or intersect with collective memories. Lim’s video Games of 20 Questions-‘The Sound of a Monsoon Goblin Crossing a Shallow Stream’(2008) addresses blurring boundaries and changes taking place in Korean society. Korea is in the course of transition toward a multi-cultural society turning away from the nationalism claiming homogeneity. Aware of the inevitable transitional moment in Korea experiencing the increasing influx of immigrant workers from other nations, Lim staged a new environment of labor by drawing on a form of festival while delivering mixed feelings of welcoming and unfamiliarity toward immigrants. The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has organized the multicultural festival, “The Migrants’ Arirang” with different names in Korean each time; “Foreign Workers Cultural Festival”(first year) and the “Immigrant Workers Festival”(second year), “Multicultural Festival with Immigrants”(third year). The constantly modified titles of the event suggest that the event began to embrace a wider range of immigrants and attempted to understand them better. Korean society is confronted with the urgent task to develop a new relationship with immigrants, the new social members. While perceiving that immigrants have been gradually placed in the margin of Korean society, Lim calls them “Welcome Strangeness.” Then she proposes 20 questions asking for new names to vitalize the relationship between them and us, instead of producing a didactic documentary to educate us. Jump Cut addresses a turning point of both the artist and Korean society. It also refers to a turning point for Artsonje Center by encouraging the viewer’s active attitude toward art institution and reinterpreting the exhibition space while drawing on the viewer’s bodily engagement. Lim’s approach points to the direction for which Artsonje Center is heading. Lim raises a question on the meaning and role of exhibition by referring to personal and collective memories. As Lim attempts to open a new possibility by stirring the water in a well mixed with oil, Artsonje Center is looking for a new transition and open possibilities.