Here’s how this week’s arts and culture column begins:
A little of “performance art” can often go a very long way.
So when a friend sent me an Art21 video by a Korean-born female artist named Kimsooja, I steeled myself. The adoption of a single name—Michelangelo! Madonna! Prince!—I did not take as a good sign.
Then I watched the video—and was captivated.
“Kimsooja’s videos and installations blur the boundaries between aesthetics and transcendent experience through their use of repetitive actions, meditative practices, and serial forms. In many pieces, everyday actions—such as sewing or doing laundry—become two- and three-dimensional or performative activities.”
The video covers a series of performances—“A Beggar Woman” and “A Homeless Woman”—taped during 2000-2001 in such far-flung cities as Lagos, Mexico City, and Cairo.
For “A Beggar Woman,” Kimsooja sits cross-legged, completely still, one hand outstretched. Her long dark hair is pulled back in a long ponytail. Her clothing is loose and pajama-like. She could almost be a statue. A crowd gathers. People surround her, staring.
Reflecting on watching her own performance in Mexico City, Kimsooja noted, “I was really struck by her posture. She was sitting very tight in a zocalo, a crowded square. Tiny body. Old lady. Totally wrapped within herself.”
READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.