A Study on Body, 1981. Silkscreen Print on Paper, 34 x 34 cm. Courtesy of Kimsooja Studio.

Geometry of Mind and of Body

Suh Yonghee, 2017

For her special exhibition at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Korea in the Hyundai Motors Series 2016, Kimsooja presented nine artworks, including her most recent, which were displayed in the Exhibition Hall 5 and in the courtyard of the Museum’s Seoul branch from July 27, 2016, to February 5, 2017. The exhibition featured artworks of diverse media, both two-dimensional and three-dimensional works, installations, and audio and video. This exhibition offered a rare opportunity to appreciate the breadth of the artist’s work scope and varied use of materials.

Kimsooja is an established, mid-career artist who has been internationally prominent for almost thirty years. In her previous exhibitions, she has used diverse media and implemented creative ways of installing artworks. Audiences have admired her endeavours to push the envelope of her own creative domain, and had high expectations for what the artist would convey on this occasion. In the titles Kimsooja chose, she deliberately asked viewers to ponder certain meanings in her art. She called the two most prominent works in the exhibition Archive of Mind (Geometry of Mind in Korean) and Geometry of Body, which established an overarching theme that extended throughout the exhibition. This was an invitation for the viewers to look at each piece in the context of either the expansion of body or the expansion of mind. More specifically, viewers were confronted with a dualistic interplay of mind and body. Through the visual extrapolation of these two contrasting but inextricable concepts, Kimsooja unfolded a realm in which one could reflect on the relationship between the substantial and the insubstantial, between the inside and outside of being, or between the self and the world.

The artist chose to title the exhibition bilingually: its Korean title, Maeummui gihahak, or Geometry of Mind, together with its English title, Archive of Mind, hinted that the exhibition was more than an illustration of the sensory employment of medium or an experimentation with forms of expression. Rather, the exhibition revolved around the metaphysical notions of mind and body. Serious viewers would realize that her goal in this exhibition was not to differentiate her artistic present from the past by demonstrating certain expressive forms in unexpected or unprecedented ways. They were expected to focus on very specific messages that Kimsooja’s artworks signify and find themselves asking questions like: What is the fundamental motivation for her art-making? What is the consistent theme that runs through her works in this exhibition? How should such profound-sounding titles be construed? This essay aims to help the reader revisit these questions and, in the process of seeking answers, come upon discoveries both intended and serendipitous. This would help us experience the epiphany Kimsooja wished to share with all of us through her reflective project at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Korea.

In most of the writings on Kimsooja, her work is interpreted through conceptual frameworks borrowed from such disciplines as cultural anthropology, psychology, philosophy, religion, sociology, or feminism. This study does not stray far from those frames of reference, but differs in its focus on the concepts of body and mind as manifested in Kimsooja’s art — a viewpoint that has not been pursued in the past. It specifically strives to expound the relationship between mind and body from the perspectives of both Eastern and Western philosophical traditions; I will try to interleave East Asian and European thoughts in relation to the concepts in Kimsooja’s works. Kimsooja has arranged each bundle of her ideas in non-contiguous spaces, which then have to be stitched together with a metaphysical thread across the gaps of discontinuity. This study is organized in the same way — that is, in a structure of non-contiguous thoughts and their synthesis across the discontinuous boundaries to propose a new condition of contemplation.

Body and Mind: Monistic Dualism

The concept of mind is inherently difficult to grasp. In general, the term mind refers to a person’s personality or character; but it can also mean a metaphysical space that contains a person’s thought or emotion. In English, mind represents the spirit or thought of the brain. The corresponding French word âme means soul or consciousness. The meaning of mind differs somewhat whether the Korean or English term is used. This divergence is probably a result of differences in Eastern and Western thought. In many traditions of European origin, mind and material have been disparate concepts. Mind is a human attribute whereas material is an attribute of things. The human mind stands independent of the external, material world and is subject to rational principles, thus forming a dimension that is separate from the material world, to which the body belongs. This way of thinking is called dualism of mind and body, predicated on the premise that mind and body are independent of each other. However, Eastern thought is not compatible with this kind of dualism. In East Asia, mind and material are deemed interdependent or complementary to each other, forming an inseparable relationship. This view, which has become the basic underpinning of philosophical thinking, treats mind and body as two different manifestations of the same entity. It does not hold that the mind governs over a body seen to be inferior. This is a monism of mind and body, or monistic dualism. According to this view, mind and body originate in and ultimately fuse and return to the state of being one. Oneness is deemed as the fundamental principle of the whole universe; it corresponds to the Great Ultimate (??, taiji) in the Confucian book the I Ching or Yijing (??, Classic of Changes), the universal and absolute principle (?, li) in the teachings of Neo-Confucianism, and nothingness (?, kong) in doctrines of Buddhism.

Recently, a monism of mind and body has been accommodated by many European thinkers, one of them being Jean-Luc Nancy. In his book Corpus, Nancy focuses on the disparaged status of the body in relation to mind, and attempts to rebalance the conventionally lopsided relationship between the two. The premise of his claims is that the body is der einzelne, meaning that it does not exist in the dominion of the mind, nor is it an existence that is merged with the mind. At the same time, he repudiates the concept of body that is perceived as the opposite to soul or mind. Nancy’s “body” is not a foreign or unfamiliar object to an inner soul (âme, psyché) but a correlator that coexists with soul. To paraphrase, body is the expansion of soul and at the same time the exterior of soul. According to Nancy, the body is opened toward the outside, i.e., it is revealed and unfolded outwards. The body is the soul’s expansion toward the exterior and forms itself as the Other (l’autrui). The soul or the mind, then, is the inner substance of the outer body and, as such, supports the body’s sense of contact. Body and soul form an oppositional pair to each other. This is a monistic dualism as the relationship between body and mind.

The concept of mind cannot be apprehended by logic or be defined by certain categories or boundaries. In order to discern the concept of mind beyond this impossibility of knowing or the limit of our rational capacity, one has to dispense with the belief in the mind’s self-sufficiency and experience a break from the closed, egocentric self. One must see that the mind is opened toward the outside — the outside which may be called the body, the Other, and the world or the universe. The process of the mind opening up or unfolding toward the outside — thereby breaking out of the subject-centred closedness that endlessly collapses inwards — is what Nancy calls as the expansion of the soul. Through such a process, the soul transcends the limitation of being immanent in itself and enters what both Emmanuel Levinas and Nancy describe as the altruistic coexisting relationship of “being-with.” The characterization of the relationship between mind and body (soul and body) as “being-together” parallels the concept of the “pluralistic singular existence (être singulier pluriel),” which is the essence of ourselves in society. Rather than expand on the relationship of pluralistic singular existence to the democratic community, I intend to connect this concept to the monistic dualism of material and mind, material and non-material, and, by extension, to the monistic dualism of finiteness and infiniteness.

In his discourse on the expansion of the soul, Nancy set out by addressing the issue of the body among the many facets of the Other. He argues that when the soul tries to reach the body, which is its own Other, as well as the outside, the soul contacts itself through the outer skin of the body, which is its own exposure (l’exposition du soi, l’expeausition). Owing to the ego outside the ego and the body that is the boundary between the self and the world, the soul is able to maintain its balance without leaning toward the inside or the outside. The concept of body, which stands as neither a subject nor an object, in conjunction with the idea of a balanced soul, offers a valuable clue to understanding Kimsooja’s works in this exhibition.

Nancy’s expansive argument about body and soul leads to a discussion of the existential finiteness of the body and its coexistence in a social context. However, in Kimsooja’s Geometry of Body, the finite coexistence of people is not a matter of importance; her focus is on our original existence that confronts the absolute or the infinite. In that regard, Kimsooja’s work diverges from Nancy’s discourse. Additionally, as a means of approaching the infinite that is the limit of existence, most of Kimsooja’s works involve geometrical structures and a balance that symbolically signify the monistic dualism of body and soul. The geometric balance, with its primordial power, brings about an effect by which we are almost unconsciously drawn into the world of the absolute and the infinite. Facing the overwhelming infinite or absolute, we are awakened from the state of our everyday existence and compelled to turn our eyes towards our original existence. We either avoid facing death or lead a life oblivious to it even though the inevitability of death is embedded in the very foundation of our present existence. If existence comes to grips with death through a constant ontological anxiety, it is said to be in fundamental and inherent authenticity (Eigenlichkeit). It was the philosopher Martin Heidegger who set out this ontological perspective and touched on the issue of “authentic existence” in Sein und Zeit (Being and Time). This authenticity of being metamorphoses the state of everyday “being there” (Dasein) into authentic existence. An authentically finite self anticipates its eventual death and projects (Entwurf) itself into authentic being, thus breaking from the self-contained self.

In my view, the concept of authentic being is closely aligned with the monistic dualism of mind and body. A human being conceived as a dualistic entity of mind and body is an existence placed on a path to absolute nothingness, or death. Of course, death in Western existentialism is the negation and perishing of being. Little or no attention is paid to the state beyond death. Even though Dasein anticipates its own death, it does not pursue the absolute domain that death ushers in. In contrast, traditional Eastern thought does not consider the death of body and soul to be a perishing, but as either a threshold through which existence enters the absolute world or a stage where existence is united with the infinite world. Therefore the meaning of existence expands to the dynamic absolute (taiji) or nothingness. While the East and the West may differ in their answers to what constitutes authenticity of being, both affirm death to be instrumental in opening up the complete possibility of being, or the ultimate infiniteness that establishes the meaning of our existence.

The Meaning of “Geometry”

The monistic dualism of body and mind provides an effective framework when we seek to grasp the significance of “geometry” as specified in the titles of works such as Geometry of Body and Geometry of Mind. It is obvious that the artist did not intend geometry to be a mathematical study dealing with figures or space. Kimsooja’s geometry is an intuitive method to help visualize complex ideas around the metaphysical notions of body or mind. The artist, by employing such a geometric method, reminds viewers of the dualistic and agonistic structure of body and mind — or the dualistic structure of material and consciousness, of the finite and the infinite, and of authenticity and non-authenticity of being. Furthermore, through geometric structure, Kimsooja leads each viewer to think of possible aspects of being. Geometry in this case can be understood as a statistician’s method that transforms a great deal of complex information into visual models, or a logician’s method of deductive reasoning in which concrete and evident facts are laid out as the ground for general principles. This methodological approach has helped the artist to avoid being lured into subjective, emotional traps while rendering images and objects in the visual arts. Kimsooja could better convey her ideas to the viewer thanks to intuitive clarity and deductive facility offered by this geometric method. Thus we could argue that her works can be categorized as conceptual art.

Verticality and horizontality, as key elements of a geometric structure, can effectively represent the ideas underlying a monistic dualism of the body and mind. Since the early 1980s, Kimsooja’s works almost without exception have a structure of verticality and horizontality, with intersections of longitudinal and transversal lines in an orderly fashion. The structure of perpendicular lines intersecting each other and extending in opposite directions displays a sense of expanding movement that unfolds toward infinity, while maintaining balance in the four cardinal directions. This structure creates an open-ended space in which the inside communicates with the outside and movement can take place in any direction. When a vertical and a horizontal line intersect, the four directions come into being. As lines are added through that intersection, the number of directions increases to eight, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four, and so on. In traditional East Asian philosophy and religion, these numbers signify time and space. In the Yijing, the sacred book of Confucianism, sixty-four trigrams symbolize sixty-four directions and represent divergent attributes of being. In the Buddhist scripture Taejanggaemandara, the eight lotus petals called jungdaepalyeobeon — which contain the four Buddhas of east, west, south and north and the four Buddhas of the northeast, southeast, northwest and southwest — symbolize the omnipresence of Buddha throughout the universe. Additionally, the eight or sixteen spokes of the wheel represent the Buddhist Dharma that permeates all directions of the universe. It is also the archetypal image of wonyoongmuae, which means “all things in all directions with no obstructions and in perfect integration.” The vertical and horizontal structure underlying all these concepts may be viewed as the dualistic structure of yin and yang or of heaven and earth, symbolizing the universe as an unhindered infinite space.

The concept of cheonjiinsamjae, as expounded in the Yijing, offers an interesting perspective on how the universe functions in relation to human beings. It adds the human being to the dualistic order of heaven and earth. Even though the universe initially comprised these two fundamental elements, human beings have come to be an indispensable mediator between heaven and earth, enabling the universe to function at its full capacity. A dualistic view of heaven and earth presumes that the world is just spread between the earth and the sky does not accommodate the use of the human mind, and is devoid of any engagement with human mind or attention. In contrast, the theory of samjaeron, the theory of three generative forces, asserts a role for human beings in the operation of heaven and earth. It raises the status of human beings to the same level , while asserting that human beings are the linchpin that holds together the universe. The inclusion of humans alters the traditional view of nature into a humanistic view of the world. Owing to this shift of views, nature philosophy in the East evolved into a humanistic moral philosophy, as manifested in Confucianism. The Doctrine of the Mean, written by the Confucian scholar Zisi, states that a human being is able to assist in change and operation of the universe and, if he or she is willing, can participate in the ranks of the three generative forces. For this, a person should perfect his or her own “human identity” bestowed by the universe. The Doctrine of the Mean dictates that it is imperative for human identity to be in compliance with the principles of the universe, or li. This is called the axiom of sungjeuklee, which means “human identity equal to the principle of the universe,” and is considered the core proposition of Confucianism. Therefore people should always cultivate their own body and mind so that their human identity is in sync with the principles of the universe — that is, in the state of golden mean. This is a state of balance maintained by a steady mind that does not get disturbed or swayed in any direction. A person in the state of golden mean attains his or her original identity, which is aligned with the principles of the universe, and can effectuate a harmonious world. If the human, who is a significant medium in helping to change and operate the world, is absent or disengaged, what would become of the world? Then, heaven and earth would remain indifferent to each other, separate, without relation, which brings us back to a dichotomous dualism. With humans engaged in conscious efforts to realize the principles of the universe, a dualistic structure is replaced by a monistic dualism of the world.

Although humans are finite beings, as mediators, they have the potential to reach for heaven in vertical relations and traverse the earth in horizontal relations. The vertical-horizontal structure defines our infinite universe. The encounter of yang, the spirit of heaven, and yin, the spirit of earth, procreates living matter and entities. Of these, only humans can join as the third of the three generative forces of the universe and engage in the operations of heaven and earth. Humans are capable of giving unitary interpretations of the world and of nature, as only humans have mind. According to the Doctrine of the Mean the ideal state of existence is the golden mean, which is alternatively called the middle or composure in the sense that it is the harmonious middle between yin and yang. The notion of composure resonates with ataraxia — “imperturbability,” the composed and stable state of mind and body sought after by the Epicurean School of ancient Greece. They believed human happiness exists in the state of ataraxia just as Confucian scholars asserted that if humans abide by the rule of the golden mean they are able to live a life that is delightful, worry free and happy, a life in which they perceive their own humanity without imbalance or bias.

The geometry of vertical and horizontal structure embodies a state of calm and composure that does not tilt to one side — this composure of body and mind is similar to what Confucianism pursued. The most fitting image of the stability of mind and body in the state of composure would be one of a vertical and horizontal structure in balance. Kimsooja may not have intentionally predicated her works on the propositions of Confucianism or, more precisely, Neo-Confucianism, however, it cannot be denied that her framework parallels them quite aptly. Just as Heidegger argued for the existential being to be authentic (to stay in existential anxiety by facing death and thereby overcoming the dualism between existence and nothingness), Confucian philosophies pursued a more positive human existence that communicates with the infinite and the absolute — a spatial and temporal realm that cannot be experienced. Confucianism in particular emphasized the universe as the root of the beginning and end, of the world of yin and yang. The basic tenet of Confucianism lies in the harmonization of human identity with the cardinal rule of the universe and living a balanced life in accordance with the order of yin and yang.

Kimsooja’s Geometry of Mind, an installation that was shown for the first time in this exhibition, prompts us to closely analyze the mind and realize it indeed is unified with the body as one and at the same time is related to authentic human identity. As there is no way to define this mind, we instead have to observe what state the mind exists in. When we observe our own mind, we realize that it initially has no shape or movement — it exists in a state of potential. It is only when a stimulus enters that the mind moves and arises; it oscillates to the state of reality filled with perception and emotion. The mind’s tranquil state of potential, while traversing through the time and space of our reality, transforms into a state of “being real” and reveals itself in this process. One of the annotations to the Yijing refers to the state of mind that has not yet been revealed to the outside as “the mind being calm and undisturbed.” In comparison, the state of mind that is revealed and able to respond is referred to as “the mind feeling and communicating.” Cheng Yi, a renowned Confucian scholar, wrote that a “calm and undisturbed state” is the original body of mind, and the state of “mind feeling and communicating” is the operation of mind. He postulated a duality of mind as an a priori state and an experienced state.

Since the nature of mind cannot be seen or touched, Confucians viewed it as empty. Buddhists viewed the mind as nothingness. Nevertheless, the mind is not completely empty. The energy of yin and yang is implicitly embedded in the mind. When the mind that has remained calm, it takes an orientation toward something at a given moment, the energy of yin and yang is activated, enabling the mind to feel. This energy allows the mind to realize or embody itself through time and space, and also allows the mind to change into various shapes. Zhu Xi, the founder of Neo-Confucianism in the Song period, compared the nature of the mind to a mirror that is clean and clear, and explained that emotion is something reflected on the mirror of the mind — that is, a reflection of the mind’s mysterious movement. He referred to the change and function of the human mind as “mysterious perception, sensation and judgment”. This mysterious function of mind has two aspects: one is the self-control of trifling emotions and desires generated by the body, and the other is the moral or ethical mind, which is based on human identity. The ethical intelligence refers to a mind that feels shame when it sees something that is not right and detests injustice, a mind of humility and accommodation for other people, and a mind that can discern right from wrong. This mind comes from a place of truth and must be encouraged. This ethical mind provides clues for understanding four personalities: gentle and virtuous, righteous, polite and civil, and wise and sagacious. The mind based on human identity acts as a swinging pendulum, gradually leading us to a state of balanced composure as well as a state of authentic being.

Eastern essence-function theory states that the mind would be in a peaceful pause when the body is also paused, and the mind would respond and feel once the body is activated. In other words, states of the mind are understood to match states of the body. This postulation of a mind-body identity is predicated on the theory that both mind and body are subject to the same energies of yin and yang. For this reason, a human being is defined as one and at the same time as two, entailing an argument that a human being can be split in two while maintaining its wholeness. This is the unification of matter and mind. In relation to the tranquility and movement of the mind, Nancy discusses something of note in Corpus. He paraphrased a quotation from Freud that came to light after his death: “the soul is unfolding (étendue) outwards, [but of the movement of being unfolded,] nothing is known.” If we substitute this “soul” for “mind,” we can see that that mind resides peacefully inside and then migrates outward and unfolds itself. The mind is not able to perceive its own movement of expansion because its unfolding is carried out unconsciously and quietly. However, if the unfolded mind makes contact with the body, the body of the mind would move towards the outside and evoke the unification of stillness and movement in the manner of twoness (mind and body) within one (the self) and oneness within twoness. Nancy makes clear that the self’s “unknowing” is the authentic self, and the process of the soul moving toward the outside, registering bodily sensation and going through thoughts and experiences, is the means of the unification of stillness and movement through which the unity of mind and body is exposed to world. Neo-Confucianism long ago explained the phenomenon of the mind being unified with the body (that is its own outside) and expanding toward the world through its essence-function theory.

Nothing could illustrate the stillness and then movement of the mind more vividly and persuasively than an experience that came upon Kimsooja one day in 1983, when she was sewing a bedcover with her mother. Suddenly she came to an important realization:

Through the banal activity of sewing a bed cover with my mother, I experienced a surprising sensation that my own thoughts, sensitivity and action were all integrated. That unifying sensation was so private and surprising. At that moment, I was able to find some kind of possibility that can include within itself countless memories, pain, as well as affection and love in life, all of which I had buried within me until that moment. The warp and weft as the fabric’s basic structure, the raw sense of colour of our own fabric, the unification of the action of sewing up and through the two-dimensional fabric, the fabric and myself and the strange nostalgia that all of this evoked...with all of this I was completely enchanted.

Later, when describing this experience again, she recounted that when the sharp needle poked into the fabric, she felt the energy of the universe suddenly penetrating through her whole body. This surprising epiphanic experience not only marked the origin of her Sewing series but also helped form the spiritual archetype for her oeuvre. The coincidence of the tension of mind with that of the body in the act of sewing brought memories and emotions that had been buried deep inside the mind to the threshold of the unconscious. This in turn electrified and moved the artist’s body and mind. Kimsooja described how this experience of the unification of her mind and body gave birth to Sewing, in which the meaning of the needle and thread is rooted in oneness of mind and body. Just as mind and body are two sides of a real being, needle and thread are as one and, as a unified entity, do the work of sewing the fabric — which symbolizes the outside world or the infinite space between heaven and earth. In the installation Archive of Mind, the participants are given an opportunity to experience the same kind of epiphany through the ritualistic act of forming clay balls rolled between their hands.

When one is touched by an artwork, his or her mind is stimulated in response: “the tranquil and unstirred mind” begins to “communicate and stir” in response to the stimulus, thus, revealing itself. In the Sewing series, Kimsooja’s artworks have been structured in a way to best resonate with the stillness and the movement of mind. The bed cover is worked with needle and thread that symbolize the oneness of body and mind. The fabric, smoothly spread out, is a horizontal structure that accommodates the movement of the mind traversing over it. Against the backdrop of the horizontal fabric, the vertical movement of sewing through the warps and wefts represents the unfolding of the mind. The mind, in sync with the hand-movement of sewing, eventually brings to the surface the nature of being and emotion that has been sequestered in the unconscious. It is not just the repetitive hand movement that stirs the stillness of mind; the artist’s mind and body are stimulated on multiple levels. For example, the colorful, traditional fabric Kimsooja uses serves as a strong stimulus for the visual and tactile senses. Furthermore, the artist is inspired by the cultural implications of these silk fabrics. The vertical and horizontal structures in Kimsooja’s work are the most conspicuous visual stimuli that inspire the viewers.


The artist’s working method, which is to join squares of fabric along their widths and lengths and multiply them by sewing, also aligns with the structure of verticality and horizontality. To the question of what Geometry of Mind and Geometry of Body mean, answers may be found if one understands the principles of the three generative forces and the manifestation of heaven, earth, and human. Now let’s delve further into the geometry of the vertical and horizontal structure.

As suggested above, the geometry of the vertical and horizontal structure has nothing to do with reifying certain idealistic concepts, nor with the identification and classification of conceptual objects in a geometric lattice. The geometry of the vertical-horizontal structure in this essay refers to a method that helps one intuit the infiniteness of the universe or the intrinsic nature of the uncertainty of being, as well as intuit the state of balance between dualistic, antagonistic elements such as body and mind, or yin and yang. Geometric structuralization is a method to facilitate the observation and reflection of complex, often conceptual, notions. It is necessary to rely on such methods in order to have categorical, systematic or structural unity when contemplating the essence of the indeterminate consciousness called mind. Through this method we are able to reach the intuition of and reflect on such topics as body and mind, or yin and yang, all of which are indefinable by knowledge.

In a similar vein, Julia Kristeva, a semiologist, opts for a dualistic system of the semiotic and the symbolic in order to explain how the signification of poetic language is ingenerated from pulsion, which exists under the consciousness. It is, in fact, impossible to formulate the disorderliness and pulsation that flows and moves into a state of segmentation in a self-evident logic or axiom. Nonetheless, Kristeva hypothesizes that pulsion, the drive of desire, generates the ultimate signification of the text. She divides the process of signification into the strata of semiotic and symbolic, and investigates the interaction of these two. Consequently, she claims that signification is ingenerated out of the semiotic field in which the fragmented pulsion is condensed and subsequently connected to the symbolic field in which law, order, and social consciousness are concentrated. In other words, the two conflicting categories are connected in such a way that the semiotic mobility engages with the symbolic order, the former moving into the latter to compose signification.

There can be many possible interpretations for the vertical and horizontal structure that characterizes Kimsooja’s work. One would be as follows: (a) the expansion of mind construed as the expansion of the energy of pulsion in the field of the semiotic, (b) the integration of the body with the outside world interpreted as the unification with society and history in the symbolic field, and (c) the monistic dualism of body and mind construed as the formation of signification generated from the cooperation of the semiotic and the symbolic. The mind is the realm that is indefinite and uncertain, like the field of the semiotic. Yet it can be said that the mind’s own expanding energy — that is, the body — creates the meaning of “being” along with the order of the symbolic, such as sewing, the hand movement of rolling clay balls, or the somatic movement of yoga. As for how the pulsion that moves across the artist’s body and mind gives rise to certain meanings in the process of sewing, that is, at the moment of “poking the sharp needle” into the fabric, the artist explained: I experienced a surprising sensation that my own thoughts, sensitivity and action were all integrated. That unifying sensation was so private and surprising. At that moment, I was able to find some kind of possibility that can include within itself countless memories, pain, as well as affection and love in life, all of which I had buried within me until that moment. [...] the strange nostalgia that all of this evoked...with all of this I was completely enchanted.

Kimsooja mused that the meaning of her works is forged when subconscious memories and feelings are introduced to the consciousness, causing her to reflect on the innate nature of being. Is this not the true role of art? Art should let the artist’s hidden desires that have been forgotten or hidden in the mundane or everyday to be truly unfolded and expanded onto the horizon of the consciousness, and enable her or him to experience the epiphanic moment of recovering the original emotion and nature of being. It is for this reason that I sincerely recommend viewers immerse themselves and directly participate in the process through which the artist creates the meaning of her art, thereby relishing the opportunity to relive their own memories and feelings as well as intuit the nature of being.

— Extract of Kimsooja: Archive of Mind. Exhibition Catalogue published by National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea, 2017