What are Kimsooja’s rainbow rooms all about?

Kimsooja – To Breathe - A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid
Kimsooja – To Breathe – A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid, Spain

About Kimsooja

Kimsooja is a Korean-born artist that has won recognition around the world. Despite living in New York, her work is exhibited across Europe, Asia and America. Her work includes performances, photographs, installations and videos.

Kimsooja’s work involves several subjects like relationships with others, nomadism and the role of women in dealing with challenges that we meet every day.

In an interview with curator Francesca Pasini1, she said:

For me, making space means creating a different space, rather than making a new one. The space is always there in a certain form and fluidity, which can be transformed into a completely different substance (…) My interest in void lies in the relationship between Yin and Yang, as a way of inhaling and exhaling, which is the natural process of breathing, as a law of living.

Speaking about her rainbow installations, Kimsooja said2:

I don’t have control of it, and that ephemerality is the beauty of the piece, because it just comes and goes with the sunlight of the day—as in our lives, as in our destinies, as the way nature is. Nothing can be forced or made or fully controlled. I feel that goes parallel to the nature of my practice, and maybe more so now than before, and as well in the future.

Rainbow room at Palacio de Cristal, Madrid, Spain, 2006

In 2006, Kimsooja composed To Breathe – A Mirror Woman for the Palacio de Cristal in Madrid, Spain. She incorporated the building’s architectural structure into the mirrors on the floor to unite and expand space.

Kimsooja – To Breathe - A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid
Kimsooja – To Breathe – A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid, Spain

She included an entire glass structure on the palace wall, covering the fault with a translucent diffraction film and mirrors that covered the floor.

Kimsooja – To Breathe - A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid
Kimsooja – To Breathe – A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid, Spain

This was combined with the artists’ breath in a soundtrack called The Weaving Factory released in 2004. In her work, she tells the audience to mobilize their sense, experiment with their minds, and put imagination and awareness into action.

Kimsooja – To Breathe - A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid
Kimsooja – To Breathe – A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid, Spain

Light from the outside filtered through the pavilion glass and then reflected on the diffraction film. The film caused the rainbow spectrums to bounce on the walls and the mirrored floor. The Weaving Factory, the sound of her inhaling and exhaling filled the entire space, invigorating visitors to the exhibition.

Kimsooja – To Breathe - A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid
Kimsooja – To Breathe – A Mirror Woman, 2006, Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid, Spain

Rainbow installation at the Korean Pavilion, The 55th Venice Biennale, 2013

At the Korean Pavilion at Venice Biennale in 2013 Kimsooja worked as curator. She created space architecture on the work designed by Franco Mancuso and Seok Chul Kim, which became the focus of the exhibition.

Kimsooja - To Breathe Bottari, 2013, Photo Jaeho Chong
Kimsooja – To Breathe – Bottari, 2013, mixed media installation, Korean Pavilion, The 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, photo: Jaeho Chong

The focus of her work at the pavilion was to create a transcendental experience that brings about the relationship yin and yang to the person’s life, relating to others and oneself and the ‘bundle’ or the Bottari Korean concept of ‘breath.’

Kimsooja - To Breathe - Bottari, 2013, mixed media installation, Korean Pavilion, The 55th Biennale di Venezia
Kimsooja – To Breathe – Bottari, 2013, mixed media installation, Korean Pavilion, The 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, photo: Jaeho Chong

The interior of the pavilion was wrapped entirely with translucent film, which diffracted the light and divided the built environment from nature. The film also showered the entire internal room in the entire light spectrum.

Kimsooja - To Breathe - Bottari, 2013, mixed media installation, Korean Pavilion, The 55th Biennale di Venezia
Kimsooja – To Breathe – Bottari, 2013, mixed media installation, Korean Pavilion, The 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, photo: Jaeho Chong

Rainbows were reflected on the walls and the floor and changed locations depending on the position of the sun. Just as she did in Palacio de Cristal Madrid in 2006, she used ‘Weaving Factory’ and showed the sound of her inhaling and exhaling, filling the entire place with life.

Kimsooja - To Breathe - Bottari, 2013, mixed media installation, Korean Pavilion, The 55th Biennale di Venezia
Kimsooja – To Breathe – Bottari, 2013, mixed media installation, Korean Pavilion, The 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy, photo: Jaeho Chong
Kimsooja - To Breathe - Bottari, 2013, mixed media installation, Korean Pavilion, The 55th Biennale di Venezia
Kimsooja – To Breathe – Bottari, 2013, mixed media installation, Korean Pavilion, The 55th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy

To breathe, Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2015-2016

Kimsooja – To Breathe, Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2015-2016
Kimsooja – To Breathe, Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2015-2016, photo: Jaeho Chong
Kimsooja - To Breathe, Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2015-2016
Kimsooja – To Breathe, Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2015-2016, photo: Jaeho Chong
Kimsooja - To Breathe, Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2015-2016
Kimsooja – To Breathe, Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2015-2016, photo: Jaeho Chong
Kimsooja - To Breathe, Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2015-2016
Kimsooja – To Breathe, Centre Pompidou-Metz, 2015-2016, photo: Jaeho Chong

To breathe, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2019

Kimsooja - To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Kimsooja – To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, photo: Mark Reeves
Kimsooja - To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Kimsooja – To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, photo: Mark Reeves
Kimsooja - To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Kimsooja – To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, photo: Mark Reeves
Kimsooja - To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Photo Mark Reeves
Kimsooja – To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, photo: Mark Reeves
Kimsooja - To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Kimsooja – To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, photo: Mark Reeves
Kimsooja - To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Kimsooja – To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, photo: Mark Reeves
Kimsooja - To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Kimsooja – To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, photo: Mark Reeves
Kimsooja - To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Photo Mark Reeves
Kimsooja – To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, photo: Mark Reeves
Kimsooja - To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Photo Mark Reeves
Kimsooja – To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, photo: Mark Reeves
Kimsooja - To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Photo Mark Reeves
Kimsooja – To breathe, 2019, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, photo: Mark Reeves

All images by Kimsooja unless otherwise noted.

More by Kimsooja

Footnotes

  1. http://www.kimsooja.com/texts/pasini.html
  2. https://www.cobosocial.com/dossiers/art/kimsooja-on-nature-nurture-and-musings-on-life/

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *