Soungui Kim: Lazy Clouds explores artist Soungui Kim’s world of art from the late 1960s to the present. “Lazy Clouds” was the title of a poem written by the artist, and became the title of her book of poetry, published in France. Though capitalist society criticizes laziness as a sign of insincerity and indolence, Kim focuses on the creative and philosophical possibilities of laziness. The lazy life she has pursued is full of delightful play and amazing discoveries, in contrast to meaningless busyness that makes us forget the essence of life. Like the clouds, which transform freely and drift along making their own paths in the sky, artist Soungui Kim lives a life that is not confined to formalities, but pioneers new roads of art ahead of her times, creating new paths in untrodden land.
Soungui Kim was born in 1946 in Buyeo, Korea. She graduated from the Department of Painting at Seoul National University. Interested in the deconstruction of painting since her college days, in 1971 she was invited by the Centre Artistique de Rencontre International in Nice to come and work in France. Ever since her employment at École Supérieure des Beaux－Arts de Marseille in 1974, she has lived in that country, actively carrying out her art projects. Located in southern France, where free intellectual debate was actively taking place from the time of the 1968 Protests, Kim worked together with experimental artist groups such as Supports/Surfaces. She presented works combining philosophy, art and technology, including Situation Plastique(1971－75), and other large－scale performances and video works, in public venues. In Korea, her works came as a refreshing surprise, as her experimental performances and conceptual art were introduced at the Soungui Kim Art Festival in 1975, at the U.S. Culture Center in Seoul, and the festival commemorating publication of issue No. 100 of Space magazine, held at Myeongdong Art Theater.
In 1982 Kim went backpacking to various countries of the world, exploring the culture and arts of the East and the West. While in New York, she associated with video artists such as Nam June Paik, Ko Nakajima, Ira Schneider and Frank Gillette. With her deepening interest in video and multimedia, she organized Soungui Kim and Her Invitees: Video and Multimedia (1986), with the participation of Nam June Paik, John Cage and others, and presented multimedia works combining objet and video, such as Tatata and Vide&O. From the late 1980s she dealt with issues related to the spread of global capitalism and structural changes in society due to the Internet, through her works such as O－time and Voie Voix Lactée.(Milky way). She produced Stock Exchange , which took a critical viewpoint of civilization in which the value of capital takes priority over all other values, and highlighted the U.S. invasion of Iraq; and carried out interviews with world-renowned aestheticians including Jacques Derrida and Jean-Luc Nancy, to discuss the values and roles of art in the neoliberal era.
This exhibition was organized to introduce the pioneering art activities of Soungui Kim, who has constantly blazed trails in new territories. Part of the mission of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul has been to introduce the public to diverse cases of convergence between disciplines and genres including those involving science and technology, and the arts. From the deconstruction of painting, to spectator－participatory events in public places, challenges in video and multimedia, and comparative studies in culture and philosophy of East and West, Soungui Kim’s artistic journey has always been one step ahead.
The artist, who has lived quietly since 1986 in a studio she made by fixing up a farmhouse in Viels －Maisons, on the outskirts of Paris, is like a “lone stranger in the desert.” Like the literary artists of the ancient East, her life breathes the changes and rhythms of nature, filling her daily life entirely with art. At a time when the logic of capital controls even the art realm, her life and works can help us rediscover the meaning of art as a way of life and practice, in our search for the significance of life.