Why did Kimsooja crisscross South Korea with her Bottari Truck?

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Kimsooja - Bottari Truck - Migrateurs, 2007 - 2009 Mixed Media Duraclear Photographic Print in Light Box 124.0 × 187.0 × 16.8 Size (cm)
Kimsooja – Bottari Truck – Migrateurs, 2007-2009, Single Channel Video Projection, silent, 10:00, loop, performed in Paris, Commissioned by Musée D’Art Contemporain du Val-De-Marne (MAC/VAL)
Photo: Thierry Depagne

Published on: Friday June 28, 2019

Last updated

Kimsooja’s trip through South Korea

Kimsooja is a celebrated interdisciplinary artist who uses various artistic disciplines and mediums to weave a tale regarding concepts such as migration and cultural issues. Her work has been praised as giving center stage to these issues and one of these renowned pieces is the Cities on the Move – 2727 Kilometres Bottari Truck, the Bottari Truck – Migrateur. This piece created in 1997 on one of the 11 days of November when Kimsooja crisscrossed South Korea holds a wealth of meaning. Here, a small Bottari truck whose bed consists of a mound of bottari (cloth bundles) bound together.

Kimsooja - Bottari Truck, Rodin Gallery, Seoul
Kimsooja – Bottari Truck, 2000, 2.5 ton truck stacked with Bottaris, installation view at Rodin Gallery, Seoul

Kimsooja - Bottari Truck - Migrateur, 2007, projected on Seoul Square Media Canvas, 2011
Kimsooja – Bottari Truck – Migrateur, Single channel video projection, 9:17, silent, projected on Seoul Square Media Canvas, 2011

Video: Kimsooja speaks about Bottari

1min 25sec

The story behind the work

In 2013, Kimsooja cited her on experience when she was young of her family always moving from one place to another as her inspiration for this piece. She also drew inspiration from a project she had been involved in, an exhibition, Cities on the Move. She borrowed this title for her own project, a constantly widening project that included an 11-day performance, with two videos, a catalog, art exhibitions, and a sound installation. The result is an art piece with contemporary relevance and evoking a nostalgic feeling for the past and yet a hopeful one for the future ahead and new beginnings.

Kimsooja - Cities On The Move – 2727 Kilometer Bottari Truck, 1997 - 2001 (Production Still)
Kimsooja – Cities On The Move – 2727 Kilometer Bottari Truck, 1997-2001

Video: Excerpt

4min 14sec

2007, PAL, 16/9, 26 min, filmed by Gilles Coudert, co-prod. Musée D’Art Contemporain du Val-De-Marne (MAC/VAL)

Analysis

The iconic picture from the video shows Kimsooja sitting atop the pile of bottari represented as a background figure. The video goes a step further to emphasize this depicting the slow weaving of the truck through changing landscape across the countryside. Its thematic nature allows one to feel as though they are moving themselves, the bottari truck a symbol of voluntary or involuntary mobility. The colorful textiles forming the bottari draws one’s eye and that Kimsooja sewed them herself is a testament to its expressive power and alludes to the female activities hence, the women’s role in society. As such this piece is an interactive performance art that is a reflection of global and cultural migration for both Kimsooja and scores who are forced to move from their homes or move voluntarily in search of better opportunities across the country and globally.

Kimsooja – Bottari Truck – Migrateurs, 2007-2009, Musée D’Art Contemporain du Val-De-Marne (MAC:VAL)
Kimsooja – Bottari Truck – Migrateurs, 2007, 1 ton truck stacked with Bottaris, installation view at Musée D’Art Contemporain du Val-De-Marne (MAC/VAL), Paris, 2007

Kimsooja - Bottari Tricycle, 2009, used Chinese tricycle, bedcovers and clothes, 295 x 190 cm, Installation view Continua Gallery, Le Moulin 2009
Kimsooja – Bottari Tricycle, 2009, used Chinese tricycle, bedcovers and clothes, 295 x 190 cm, Installation view Continua Gallery, Le Moulin 2009
Photo: Thierry Depagne

About Kimsooja

Kimsooja is a Korean contemporary artist born in 1957. She was born in Daegu, South Korea and is a conceptual artist with a passion for straddling disciplines when it comes to her artwork. Having been an artist resident at MoMA PS1, in 1992, she later created artwork that focused on the concepts including women’s role in society, interpersonal relationships, migration and nomadism captured on sewn fabrics, wrapped objects (bottari) etc., colored and patterned. These are developed in sculptures, performance and video works as well.

Kimsooja - Bottari Truck - Migrateur, 2007, Single Channel Video Projection, silent, 10-00, loop, performed in Paris

Kimsooja – Bottari Truck – Migrateur, 2007, Single Channel Video Projection, silent, 10-00, loop, performed in Paris, Commissioned by Musée D’Art Contemporain du Val-De-Marne (MAC/VAL), still Photo by Thierry Depagne

All images by Jaeho Chong & Kimsooja/kimsooja.com unless otherwise noted.

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