QUESTIONS: Kimsooja

The following questions can be used to spark conversation before, during, and after viewing the artist's film segment. They were compiled from our Educators' Guides and Screening Toolkits. We strongly encourage active viewing strategies that involve audiences in discussion in order to anticipate and set-up the ideas in the film, clarify content, or further the ideas while watching, and gives viewers the opportunity to process and re-consider their ideas after watching. Additional resources and strategies for teaching with films and working with contemporary art can be found in Teach.


"A Mirror Woman," 2002. Korean bedcovers, parallel mirror structure walls, four fans, cable, and Tibetan Monk chant, 62 x 21 1/5 x 13 feet. Collection of MUDAM, Luxembourg. Photo by Bill Orcutt. © Kimsooja. Courtesy the artist and Peter Blum Gallery, New York.

Before Viewing
Consider the terms traditional sculpture and social sculpture. What forms might these types of sculpture take? Look at examples of contemporary and historical sculpture. How do they reflect or defy the categories of traditional and social sculpture?

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


SEGMENT: Kimsooja in "Systems"

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.

Kimsooja is physically present in many of her projects, and she speaks specifically about using her body to become Needle Woman. How does she do this? Why do you think she chose the metaphor of a needle?


"To Breathe—A Mirror Woman," 2006 Diffraction grating film, mirror, and sound performance piece by the artist from "The Weaving Factory," 2004. Installation at The Crystal Palace, Madrid. Photo by Jaeho Chong. © Kimsooja. Courtesy the artist and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina SofĂ­a, Madrid.

After Viewing
Kimsooja talks about the importance of the bottari (the Korean word for a bundle used to transport belongings or goods) in her work. She also describes her installation at the Crystal Palace as "a bottari of light and sound and reflection." Discuss this metaphor.

In what ways 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?


"A Needle Woman – Kitakyushu," 1999. Single channel video projection, silent, 6:33 minute loop. © Kimsooja. Courtesy the artist.

Kimsooja says: "The most important thing I'm interested in, in performative video, is my experience while doing it. I'm not really that interested in video as a result. It's really a secondary thing for me. The most important thing is the moment when my contemplation goes on and has a certain inner evolution."

Consider the ideas of both inner evolution and transcendence, as discussed by the artist. What systems does Kimsooja rely on, in order to achieve that particular moment of contemplation?


"Bottari," 2000. Installation at "Partage d'exotismes," 5th Lyon Biennale, 2000. Used bed covers and used clothes, dimensions variable. © Kimsooja. Courtesy the artist.