Palacio de Cristal


Respirar - Una Mujer Espejo / To Breathe - A Mirror Woman

Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid

April 27 to July 24, 2006

Courtesy of Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. Curated by Oliva María Rubio. Coordinated by Mónica Carballas and Rafael García.

Kimsooja (b. Taegu, Korea, 1957) is a world-renowned artist, currently living in New York. Her work has been exhibited throughout Asia, America and Europe, and her practice includes installations, photographs, performances and videos. Her subject matter ranges from nomadism, the relationship between self and the other, and addressing the role of women and the human being in the chaotic world in which we live.

Kimsooja uses minimal elements: a translucent diffraction film that covers the vault, the entire glass structure of the palace, a mirror that covers the floor, combined with the sound of the artists' breathing in the soundtrack The Weaving Factory, 2004. She brings the audience into a transforming experience and invites them to experiment with their minds, mobilizing senses, awareness, and imagination into focus. Kimsooja composed To Breathe - A Mirror Woman specifically for the space configuration of the Palacio de Cristal in Madrid. The artist incorporates the architectural structure of the building into the mirrors on the floor, to expand and unite space.

Outside light filters through the glass of the pavilion and reflects off the diffraction film. It diffuses into rainbow spectrums, transforming the external panorama seen from within the palace. The resulting effect is that the entire structure as well as the rays of colour reflecting off the mirrored floor. Natural light, colour, and sound are all ethereal elements within the empty space. The artist's breathing from the performance, The Weaving Factory, bounces off the mirrors and fills the entire building to intermix with it, breaking down barriers of inside and outside, self and other, and reality and fantasy.

In the first part of the performance, her breathing is gentle, slow, and barely perceptible; but gradually it becomes deeper and faster, acquiring a dizzying rhythm, that conveys discomfort and even anguish. Several emotional states are perceptible through her breathing, which becomes one with her artistic work. In the second, one can barely notice the breathing, which becomes part of the background. The tone, modulation and rhythms have changed. From rebellion to joy, anguish to enjoyment, doubt to certainty; all are states the viewer perceives through the exhibit. Kimsooja invites the audience to travel within the space, within their own breathing - in other words, within themselves. It is during this journey that the audience finally faces the other, always present in her work, as the mirror connects and reflects the other in all of us. The mirror breathes, attracts and reflects, and that reflection is the medium for introspection. Kimsooja invites the audience to the experience of their own body within this space, and leads the viewer to encounter dimensions of body, mind, senses and imagination.

Her videos, including her performances and her video installations with sound, as well as her installations with clothing, create a meditative isolation as a space of sanctuary. Kimsooja's work is engulfed by the audiences' participation in silence and concentration. It is an invitation to escape the chaos and surrounding worldly noise for a moment, and thereby re-discover ourselves and question our relationship with others; to contemplate our place in the world, and face the essential boundaries of our own existence.

© 1983-2022 kimsooja