Walker Art Center

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Press Releases Artist Minouk Lim Explores Urban Modernization in a Globalized World

Acclaimed Korean Artist’s First U.S. Solo Exhibition Includes Video, New Sculptures, and Performance

Merging performance, video, and documentary and motivated by the desire to respond to the everyday realities of her surroundings, the work of the Korean artist Minouk Lim has been shown in increasingly wider circles since she was awarded the Hermes Korea Art Prize in 2007 and the 1st Media Art Korea Award in 2010. Describing her video-based work as “performance documentary theater,” Lim engages with the arteries of city life—the streets—to create poignant works that speak to individual alienation and the loss of place and collective memory amid globalized cities like Seoul undergoing rapid development. Lim’s first in-depth U.S. solo museum exhibition, Minouk Lim: Heat of Shadows, opens at the Walker Art Center on May 31, 2012 and runs through September 2, 2012.

The exhibition presents a trio of large-scale video installations based on performances in and around Lim’s hometown of Seoul. In New Town Ghost (2005), a slam poet with a megaphone raps on the back of a truck as it drives through a “new town” development in Seoul, as a reaction to the sweeping government initiatives that displace its citizens in the name of progress. S.O.S—Adoptive Dissensus (2009) follows nighttime passengers on a Han River cruise boat who encounter interludes staged on the river banks. An infrared camera records the warmth emanating from “pilgrims” as they travel on a tour bus to restricted construction sites in The Weight of Hands (2010). As an outgrowth of her interest in capturing collective unconsciousness, these arresting, immersive, multidisciplinary artworks speak to the human cost of modernization.

Expanding on Lim’s interest in merging conceptual and performative gestures with three-dimensional objects, the exhibition also comprises a series of wearable sculptures commissioned by the Walker. Constructed from “thermofoam” material sculpted by heat and a combination of man- made and natural materials such as synthetic fur, paraffin, animal bones, polyurethane, velvet, and feathers, the works are conceived as protective shields for the human body and totemic devices that articulate an imagined apocalyptic landscape. Lim will collaborate with Minneapolis-based dancer and choreographer Emily Johnson on an opening night performance that animates the sculptures around themes of nature, myth, and civilization. The performance takes place on May 31 at 7 p.m.

Minouk Lim was born in Daejeon, South Korea, and lives and works in Seoul. Lim’s work has been shown in group and solo exhibitions at venues around the world, including the Freer-Sackler Galleries at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; San Francisco Art Institute and REDCAT; Witte de With, Rotterdam; and ArtSonje Center in Seoul. In addition, she has participated in major international biennales and festivals including the 2011 Festival BOM; the 2010 Liverpool Biennial Touched at FACT, Liverpool, UK; the 2009 Yokohama International Festival of Arts and Media; the 7th Gwangju Biennale curated by Okwui Enwezor; and the 10th International Istanbul Biennale curated by Hou Hanru. She has upcoming exhibitions at the Witte de With in Rotterdam in a group exhibition titled Melanchotopia and at the Paris La Triennale at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

Related Program

Opening Night Performance

May 31, 7 pm, free

Lim will collaborate with Minneapolis-based choreographer Emily Johnson (Emily Johnson/Catalyst) on “Firecliff 3,” an opening night performance that animates Lim’s sculptures around themes of nature, myth, and civilization.

Emily Johnson is a dancemaker and writer, originally from Alaska, now based in Minneapolis. Her dances function as installations, engaging audiences within and through a space and environment–interacting with a place’s architecture, history, and role in community. Her work tours through the country with support from National Dance Project, National Performance Network, Map Fund, and Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. She is a 2012 Headlands Artist in Residence and Alpert/MacDowell Colony recipient. Her next work, Niicugni, is commissioned by PS122, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Northrop Auditorium, Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, Vermont Performance Lab, and TigerTail Productions.

Support for Fire Cliff 3 provided by PAMS and the Arts Council Korea.

About the Exhibition Curator

Clara Kim joined the Walker Art Center as Senior Curator of Visual Arts in 2011. Previously, she was Gallery Director and Curator at REDCAT in Los Angeles. Kim was also one of the co-curators (under artistic director Kim Sunjung) of the 2010 Media City Seoul—an international biennial organized by the city of Seoul with over 40 international artists.


Minouk Lim is organized by the Walker Art Center and is made possible by generous support from John L. Thomson and Helen and Peter Warwick.

Minouk Lim, New Town Ghost, 2005

In this single-channel video, a slam poet with a megaphone raps from the back of a truck driving the a “new town” project in Seoul. Lim writes that the area where her office/studio is located is “a symbolic place where both hope for development and local residents’ indifference have coexisted since the district around Yeongdeungpo Market contributed to the early industrial development in Korea.”

Courtesy the artist and PKM Gallery, Seoul