Jinyoung Kim uses time-based media to create her works. Her photographs and videos combine documentary and fiction in order to form metaphoric narratives that deal with questions of identity, sense of belonging, and the relationship between place and self-perception.
Born in South Korea and raised in Canada, Kim’s work reflects on her own experience of having to grow roots in both places. She continues to look for stories in her life and other's lives as an ongoing investigation into how a sense of place relates to the formation of one's identity. Kim renders personal narratives into poetic vision forming symbolic and metaphoric visual condensations. Her images and videos resonate with everyday experiences, imbuing them with meaning through appropriation into different contexts and staging gestures in front of the camera. Her work examines conditions of liminal self-identity and displacement; frequently using herself as a performer in her work.
Jinyoung Kim holds a BFA from OCAD University in Toronto, and received her MFA from Concordia University in Montréal. She is currently an instructor in the Photography Program at Concordia University in Montréal. She has exhibited her work in galleries across Canada including: Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery; VU Photo in Quebec City; Gallery 101 in Ottawa; Maison de la Culture Frontenac in Montréal; Montréal’s Espace Cercle Carré; and internationally at the Focus Photography Festival in Mumbai, India. Kim was shortlisted for the 2014 Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Award in Contemporary Art, and has received the Roloff Benny Foundation Fellowship in Photography. Her work has appeared in ESSE magazine, Vie des arts, and La Presse. Kim’s work can be found in the collection of the City of Montréal and in numerous private collections.
APPARITIONS OF COLLECTIVE DISPOSITION
Places in a city shape lives and die young. At 34 years old, I once belonged to places, but perhaps those places do not belong to me. The relationship is never reciprocal. Similar stories go on. Renters float around the city like particles of industrial dust, moving to and from another neighbourhood, and gets attached to a tree and calls it a place. One day, the tree falls by a spell of a shapeless phantom that guards the future of the city, the state, the numbers. The story repeats itself for another case.
Between 2016 and 2018, I have chosen to go to places that are subjected to urban-renewal projects targeting Jugong Apartments - state funded development sites from the 70s and 80s - in outskirts of Seoul, South Korea to document their protocols of disappearance. One of those places, I knew and remember like the back of my hands. When it began to disintegrate, I observed the steps of its estrangement. People left, garbage and stray cats populated the place. Then the trees, playgrounds, benches, and streets disappeared block by block. Like a climax, the buildings were demolished one by one. In less than a month, the place became a space.
My memories of the place were concluded by the sights of deterioration. The sight is almost cathartic. Images of the disaster zones act as a self-fulfilling prophecy to what expectations I had of its loss. I found that I identified with the place by referring to the images that I vaguely remembered from news reports and Sci-Fi films I saw rather than from my personal memories. I realized that when I walked into the demolition zone, it was a non-place, an impersonal space. It failed to bring out memories that were once so strongly attached to it.
When one cannot revisit a place, would memory survive the time?
Future is here with a case of amnesia.
Jugong Apartment is an on-going project which I began producing in the summer of 2016. After hearing news that the former neighbourhood where I grew up in South Korea is part of an urban land development plan, I went back to the city to document the destruction of the existing Jugong Apartment buildings. The neighbourhood is essentially a small city that consists of mostly residential mid- to high-rise apartment buildings with some related commercial activity in the environs. It is a peaceful place where mostly families have settled. The city was planned for a lifestyle that values family living, while allowing for proximity to the denser centres of the capital, Seoul. When I arrived in the neighbourhood, the buildings were being emptied out and were in various states of abandonment. Some of the areas had had been vacated for some time whereas, in other parts of the city, people were still in the process of moving out. Just no one was moving in or taking care of their places anymore.
These are the last days of what is called “Jugong” Apartments in South Korea. As time passes, the previous dream of a common person owning a unit in the Jugong Apartments (largely a legacy of 70’s urban planning) is rapidly being replaced. Now there are high priced, exotic condominiums available that offer complete packages with gyms, technology, leisure, and spectacular views. What is formidable is the speed and aggressiveness with which these developments are appearing in such a small city. Over the next five to six years more than 30,000 people will have had to move out, and more than 120 standing concrete buildings will be demolished.
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