Tammy Kim

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My artwork explores participation and interactivity through sculptures made from everyday materials.  Coming from a sculpture background, I create sculptural installations that involve the participation of the viewers.  With their involvement the artwork is then activated or continuously transforming. In the past I have used visual architectural language to further the conversation around corporeal experiences and the act of building, creation, destruction and mythmaking.

Rites of Passage, 2005, drywall, wood, paint
Being on the tangent of physicality, space and architecture I wanted to change the performative/physical activity outside myself and onto the viewer.  Using the same material as one would find in interior of buildings, I reformatted the doorway so that the only way to get in and out would be through this awkward rectangular slot that was 40 cm high and 100 cm long.  The whole process for the viewer when engaging with the piece--from deciding if and how to go through the slot, to other people waiting and watching to go through--is also an important part of the participation.

Meeting of Beings, 2008 drywall, wood, paint, mirror.
I wanted to continue to work with the idea of singular self standing structures that people could still have physical interactions with.  I like the idea of ‘wall’ materials often giving off the sense of non-space and structure. Four people at  one time were invited to lie down on the structure and have a conversation. There was a mirror on the bottom of the pyramid where people could see each other and themselves.

Memory of the Body and Myth

Kim Jung-rak(Professor of Korea National Open University)

Oedipus meets a monster called Sphinx on his way to Thebes. Sphinx asks a riddle to everyone that comes along –. by the way, it’s amusing that they are all men - and when they couldn’t answer or gave him the wrong answers he killed and ate them without mercy. The riddle given to Oedipus was “What is a creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs in the evening?” He answered “human” without a hesitation, and it was the right answer. In despair, Sphinx threw himself off of a cliff and died.

This plot is one of many fates of the tragic Greek hero Oedipus, and out of many ordeals in life this is telling a hero’s victorious story from not so many. The interesting thing here is, how was Oedipus able to easily solve such a hard riddle? When the young Oedipus was being abandoned by his father, a hole was made in his ankle so that he wouldn’t be able to live. This is how he got his name Oedipus which means “lame.” Walking with a limp was one of the divine punishments this tragic hero had live with for the rest of his days. Sphinx’s riddle to a person like him was probably very easy. The myth is telling this kind of hurt and connotation in the memory of the body as a narrative. Tammy Kim’s work can say to be about forming various three dimensional artworks which recall the memories connected to the body and by exposing this to the audience, she is sharing the memories and broadening the horizons of art.

The first is a narrow door. The additionally structured three dimensional artwork of the actual architecture is “physically” limiting the free access by the audience, or works as a mechanism that directly suppresses the body. In this way, the audience experiences the motive of the visit from the very entrance into the art museum or gallery. Because there are other visitors already in the space they had to crawl through, the audience themselves become a spectacle for other visitors. As the role of an observer changes into a subject of observation, there is an overturning phenomena of the symbol and meaning of the body as well. Like this, the exhibition space (or the place of performance) transforms into a place resembling a laboratory for physical experience or place of experiential learning.

The physical body in this place is an organ with eyes and it observes and defines the rest of the body. Oedipus’ ankle is now the eyes of normal people. And the artist is attempting to directly prove the various dilemmas that occur, as she demands the desires of the eyes to the body, through the installation work process. This separated body is the very essence of the
theory by Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) which is being frequently discussed these days.

Furthermore, this art creates a situation of “cutting off” a part of the body just as the artist says, and makes the audience experience the dichotomous separation as in the body and
head. The artist also tells the audience a self-planned myth before this kind of experiment. The method of Tammy Kim is recreating and twisting the dichotomous structure of the creator and created, artist and audience, or mind and body within the myth, and taking the aggressive attitude towards the awareness of civilizations built on the hierarchical relationship of the host and guest. All of her works, somewhat, seems to be a scheme planning to overthrow all of the generalized awareness. However, her art installations are too amusing to be called a scheme, and sometimes it evokes pathos based on irony. The artist offers a certain freedom and oppression at the same time, and makes the audience experience the capabilities and limits of the body. Experience is remembered and this memory slowly develops into mythos of each individual.