THEMATIC: Transcendence and Personal Experience


"A Needle Woman," detail, Mexico City (Mexico), 1999-2001. Eight-channel video projection, silent, 6 min 33 sec loop. Locations: Cairo, Delhi, Lagos, London, Mexico City, New York, Shanghai, Tokyo. © Kimsooja. Courtesy the artist.

Works of art can create moments of transcendence. Kimsooja's work explores how art can help us to transcend our individual reality and gain an awareness of the world around us in new ways. In her film segment, she discusses her video, Needle Woman, and how she experiences "a certain transcendence of [her]self." Watch Kimsooja's segment, and consider the kinds of experiences that her art creates for viewers. How can art inspire contemplation or increase consciousness?

Consider the idea of transcendence in relation to other artists' work, including Doris Salcedo, Mary Heilmann, and Hiroshi Sugimoto.


SEGMENT: Kimsooja in "Systems"

Before Viewing
Define and discuss the word transcendence. What kinds of experiences are transcendent? Can art be transcendent? How? Why?

While Viewing
What associations do you make with Kimsooja's work? Consider specific artworks featured in this segment, in relation to your own ideas, experiences, and memories.

After Viewing
How is Kimsooja's work transcendent? Kimsooja says that she always tries to find the transcendent moment and space within her work. Does she achieve her goal? How?

Create
Assemble a unique collection of objects that reflect aspects of your daily life, and use them to form a sculpture or installation. Write a brief description of each object's significance to you, and describe how they contribute to the finished artwork.