To Breathe / Respirar. Palacio de Cristal. Parque del Retiro. Madrid.

Kimsooja: Less is More

Oliva María Rubio, 2006

Kimsooja (Taegu. Korea, 1957) has dedicated her long, intense artistic career to developing her own personal vision of the world through the use of installations, performances, photography, videos and site-specific projects. Her obvious singularity has tempted some to seek out links with certain Eastern philosophical and artistic traditions, but her core material is reality itself. The ideas that inform her work follow from questions she asks about life and art, about individuality and our relationship to others, about emptiness and the ephemerality of our existence. Her upbringing and life experience have helped shape her thinking into a unique blend where Christianity and Western philosophy is intimately entwined with Zen Buddhism, Confucianism, Shamanism and Tao. In the history of Western art, we can find several referents to her work in performance and body-art circles, where artists such as Marina Abramovic and Ulay or Valie Export parallel her concerns. But rather than allowing herself to be swayed by theoretical issues and philosophies, whether Eastern or Western, Kimsooja has followed a trajectory marked mainly by a social and political commitment ensuing from her own life story, memory and sensitivity. Her work has deep universal roots and aspires to capture the totality of human experience: her creations appeal equally to mind, body and soul.

From the beginning of the Nineties, after having worked with abstract collage compositions combining sewn objects with drawing and painting, Kimsooja began to create installations and spatial objects that she dubbed Deductive Objects, where sewing was both a metaphor and an activity in itself. Needles, cloths, threads, quilts and such like formed part of her creative universe. Sewing, wrapping, stretching, folding, unfolding, covering are activities to which she repeatedly returns. The materials she chooses and the way she employs them derive from the traditional use of cloths in Korea. She began to show her bottariat two exhibitions she held in New York in 1993: the first in PS.1, where she had arrived the previous year on an international residence grant, and the other at the ISE Foundation. The bottari are bundles stuffed with cloths, clothes, etc, wrapped up in well-worn traditional Korean bedcovers. As the artist explained, second-hand bed clothes "bring with them smell, memories, desires, holding the spirit and life of former owners". From then on, these commonplace objects in Korean culture became a constant in her work. In Korea they are associated with mobility (voluntary or obligatory), as they are used to carry around unbreakable domestic chattels such as clothes, books, food and gifts. Kimsooja's work presented them in all possible combinations: individually; alongside bedding laid out on the floor; against the backdrop of a landscape evoking their core function as a way of transporting necessary goods, symbolizing nomadic values; in dialog with video installation, etc.

The artist went on to use the term bottari as the recurrent title for a series of videos she made in several different countries during 2000 and 2001. One such was Bottari-Zócalo, where we see a huge crowd of people - tiny multicolored bundles- swarming around the Zócalo plaza in Mexico City. Another was Bottari - Alfa Beach, shot in one of the slave-trading ports of Nigeria. On a screen split in two with sea and sky inverted, the constant to-and-fro of the waves in a green-grey sea, occasionally splashed by the white foam of breaking waves, contrasts with the quiet sky of fluffy clouds underneath. It transmits the same hope and uncertainty that the slaves must have felt in the face of an unknown future that loomed before them. Then there is Bottari - drawing the snow, where dark snowflakes fall across the white screen like birds scattering from their flock in all directions. And Bottari - waiting for the sunrise, filmed in Real de Catorce, Mexico, where a fixed camera focuses on a stony road that disappears into the horizon. The day is breaking but we cannot yet see the sun. For nearly five minutes, during which nothing moves, we try to discern the landscape, feeling the slow passage of time. Suddenly, we notice white light moving at the back from the right to the left of the screen. As the light coincides with the center of the road it seems that time and space have merged; but before it can begin to dazzle us, the video ends.

These three videos were first presented, alongside another four, at the Bevilacqua La Masa Foundation exhibition in Venice, January 2006, and foreshadowed Kimsooja's most recent works. They emit no sound. It seems as if the artist wants us to concentrate on the space, on what the screen is showing, placing unique importance on vision. Everything else is left to our imagination. The sense of movement, traveling, transition, disorientation, uncertainty and hope — all aspects that play a vital role in our lives — is ever-present in the author's videographic output and connects them to both her earlier and her later work. Kimsooja reflects on various aspects of life in which analogy and metaphor assume special relevance.

Apart from the bottari, another characteristic element in her work is the employment of brightly colored, well-used traditional Korean bedclothes. For Kimsooja, they symbolize women, sex, love, the body, rest, sleep, privacy, fertility, longevity and health. Elements brimming with significance and present in human life from cradle to grave. Like the bottari, the bedclothes appear in various works, assembled in different manners: spread out on the floor in Sewing into Walking (1995); in combination with bottari in Deductive Object (1996); covering a mannequin in the photograph entitled Encounter - looking into sewing (1998-2002), which speaks to us both of loss of identity and of its weight; hanging from pegs as if hung out to dry in, for example, A Laundry Woman (2000) and A Mirror Woman (2002), another metaphor for female roles. These last two were presented in several places, including the Contemporary Art Museum in Lyon and the Peter Blum Gallery in New York, respectively.

As of the mid-Nineties, Kimsooja began to use video fundamentally as a way to document and record performances in which she herself played a leading role. Between 1997 and 2001 she filmed a series of videos from performances she held in various towns and places the world over. Both the process and the pictures that these generated link into her attempt to reconcile the tensions inherent in the relationship between our ego and others'. The first video she entitled Cities on the Move - 2727 Kilometers Bottari Truck. It was made in November 1997, on an eleven-day journey through Korea on a truck loaded with colorful bottari. The 7:03 minutes of footage record the trip in space and time. A metaphor for her own life — constantly crossing frontiers — but also for one of the characteristics of contemporary artists and our society as a whole: nomadism is one of the mainstays of Kimsooja's art. We find it in many works of hers: in the installations with the bottari as symbolic elements and in other video pieces.

The common denominator to this series of videos is the female form, a motionless woman with her back to the camera. It is presented in a myriad of settings: standing amongst passers-by in Tokyo, Shanghai, New Delhi, New York, Mexico, Cairo, Lagos and London or reclining on a rock in Kitakyushu, Japan — A Needle Woman (1999-2001); sitting on the pavement asking for alms in Cairo, Mexico and Lagos — A Beggar Woman (2000-2001); lying in the streets of New Delhi and Cairo — A Homeless Woman (2001); or standing next to a river in New Delhi — A Laundry Woman (2000). But wherever she may be, the figure of the artist is always inaccessible, her face hidden from the viewer. The viewer is thus refused what the crowds are permitted. The woman who will not let us see her face, who obliges us to ask uncomfortable questions of ourselves, becomes an abstraction. Her image, immobile before the river Yamuna, ends up merging into the current and flowing away with the debris that it carries. In these works, immobility envelops everything. However firmly the author places herself in the centre of the picture, she still manages to distance herself from it. Her simple yet oddly energizing appearance there is a kind of self-affirmation. She manages to be herself and the 'other' at one and the same time: both presence and absence. Kimsooja is simultaneously subject and object of our gaze; an individual and an abstraction; a specific woman and all women; instrument and actress; immobile and resolute. This seamless duality is something that Bernhard Fibicher described in "Obvious but Problematic", his article for the exhibition catalogue for Kimsooja, A Needle Woman, held in Kunsthalle Berne, in 2001.

There is no sound in the bustling streets and in the landscapes where we see the artist, so reception is reduced to pure vision. Nor do we know who is filming her, what she is like, or with what expression she might face the crowds. The passers-by, inhabitants of enormous cities, become involuntary actors. In the Needle Woman video, the artist is standing stock still in the middle of streets overflowing with people. Her absolute immobility contrasts with the hurly-burly of the metropolis and with the noise that -although we do not actually hear it — we cannot help but divine must be there. The camera films the mass of passers-by treading the streets of these cities. It shows the faces of this anonymous throng while hiding that of the artist. Thousands of people walk towards her, enter the camera's field of vision and then disappear. Like a sociologist, the camera records the reactions of this multitude in a confrontation with the 'other'. In London, New York and Mexico, people almost ignore the artist as they pass her by. In Shanghai, New Delhi and Cairo, she sparks more interest. Some people even turn round or stop a moment to look at her. But it is in Lagos that she elicits greatest curiosity. Here, the video footage shows individual faces, feelings, reactions... However, in Tokyo, a smile on the face of a woman is the only element of emotion amidst the anonymous crowd. In A Homeless Woman, it is in Cairo that people pay most attention to her. A group of men cannot resist approaching her, moving in close and staring directly into the camera.

For the 51st Venice Biennial in 2005, Kimsooja made a new version of A Needle Woman for which she visited a further six cities: Patan (Nepal), Havana, Rio de Janeiro, N'Djamena (Chad), Sana'a (Yemen) and Jerusalem. In six contiguous screens, presented as a video-installation in the midst of absolute silence, we can only intuit the teeming sounds of the passers-by and the noise of traffic in the distance. Once again, the artist brings us face to face with people's varied reactions to the ineffable figure she cuts. In this new set of videos, it is in Rio de Janeiro where people are most inquisitive about the artist's presence. In Jerusalem, only a small minority observe her with curiosity, although a policeman comes up to her smiling, looks at her, makes a hand-gesture to onlookers and leaves her alone. In general, however, passers-by seem more drawn to something that must be happening to her right, which is where they fix their eyes. In Patan, where flocks of birds swarm across the screen in stark contrast to the placid tranquility displayed by the inhabitants, it is mainly children who are attracted by her unmoving form. In Havana, a man pulls a face at her; many smile at her and a few can be seen making comments as their paths cross. In Sana'a, the men, especially the young men (there are hardly any women out on the street and where there are, they are fully covered by their black tunic and scarf with just a tiny slit at eye level) surround her and stop to stare at her attentively. In N'Djamena, the artist's figure merges into the mass of colorful garments and the rhythmic swarm of the passers-by — many of them carrying packages and bowls on their heads — as they surround her, then stop and gaze at her fixedly, greeting her with hand-movements, even speaking to her and apparently asking her questions. The curiosity on their faces is unmistakable. We, mere observers of their actions, look on expectantly. We cannot help but be slightly nervous of the reactions that people might have to the artist's presence. We fear the unexpected, always aware that there could be a sudden outbreak of violence at any moment. But as we watch the action unfolding, we wonder about the artist's reaction to the stares, smiles and comments to which she is subjected. We begin to feel intrigued about what the surprised passers-by could be saying, the words we cannot hear but deduce her unforeseen presence must elicit. We want to know more. We would like to be in the middle of this mass of people so that we could gather our own conclusions, evince their opinions, discover whether they are attracted by this sudden encounter with an unmoving figure in their path, or whether it has unsettled or upset them. It is true that we can observe their reactions, which in general appear to be respectful, since the camera shows their faces as they enter its field of vision, as they become unwary protagonists. But at the same time, we have an innate desire to hear their comments as they pass by. The artist exposes herself and exposes us. Observing her, we are also opened up to the crowd; with her, we merge into the surrounding mass, registering people's reactions. But we always want to know more, to have a hint of their singularity, a spark of their being in this world.

Through their actions, capturing their expressions and reactions as they come across her, the artist also forces us to experience the shortcomings to our understanding of the real situation in other countries as lived by other peoples. The author is investigating, seeking out the minimal differences between each country and each person, trying to put her finger on what sets one apart from the rest. She shows human beings as individual beings and as experiences. Her choice of cities and countries for the performances is not random. Kimsooja's selection reflects her awareness of the conflicts that assail them, problems stemming from post-colonialism, civil wars, border skirmishes and violence triggered by the extreme poverty of their inhabitants. However, it is in these countries, ridden by conflict, far from jaded, ageing Europe, in stark confrontation with the unknown, that her creativity seems to find moaning and inspiration.

In all these videos, Kimsooja makes her presence felt in this world through the continuity of reiterated situations and shots of her own unaltering image. People's physical, material being intrudes into her work in the same way as Nature. They are all a manifestation of different ways of being in this world, a statement of our alone-ness, but also a reminder that the world is ever present and that we are surrounded by others. Her work goes far beyond the gender issues, an area where she can be too simplistically pigeon-holed. She is demonstrating the manifest importance of being human in the chaotic world we inhabit, with all its solitude and its ephemerality. Directly or indirectly, through the traces that it leaves behind, people's 'footprint', humankind is always present in her work.

Although the artist is not interested in tackling political issues as such in her creative output, her interest in the human condition and human reality has, on occasions, led her to create installations that are clearly related to political or social events. Sometimes these are a response to what has happened, other times they constitute a memory of them or render homage to their victims: Sewing into Walking (1995), presented at the first Kwangju Biennial, consists of a set of used cloths and bundles scattered over the ground in a park. They look like bodies abandoned on the battlefield. The piece is dedicated to the victims of the massacre at Kwangju, which took place in May 1980 when hundreds died in their struggle for democracy. Deductive Object - Dedicated to my Neighbors (1996), shown at the City Art Museum of Nagoya, Japan, uses a mixture of Korean and Japanese cloths; it is dedicated to the victims of the collapse of the Sampoong department store in her neighborhood in Seoul that same year. D'APERTutto or Bottari Truck in Exile (1999), presented at the 48th Venice Biennial, shows a truck reflected from a mirror structure installed in front of it, loaded up with brightly colored bottari. The mirror creates an endless opening, but the truck is blocking its own way ahead. It is dedicated to the refugees from Kosovo, a reminder of the dreadful consequences of war: displacement, death and destruction that were occurring at that time only a few kilometers from Venice. Responding to the events of the 11th of September 2001, Kimsooja created her Epitaph (2002), a powerful, emotional and beautiful photographic image in which the artist unrolls a colorful quilt on the ground in the Greenlawn cemetery in Brooklyn. In the background we can see the gaping absence of the emblematic Twin Towers on the Manhattan skyline.

Throughout her career, and especially in recent years, along with her installations, photographs, performances and videos, Kimsooja has also been involved in setting up site-specific projects. Cloths, especially the eye-catching Korean bedclothes; sequences of light and color; mirrors; the chanting of Tibetan, Gregorian and Islamic monks, and the sound of her own breathing are resources that she uses for these and have become identifying characteristics. Planted Names and A Lighthouse Woman (2002), were two such projects, installed under the umbrella of the Spoleto Festival USA 2002 in Charleston, South Carolina. The artist was responding to an invitation to join in an exhibition entitled Memory of the Water, evoking the cosmopolitan character of this colonial capital and its maritime legacy. Planted Names commemorated the slaves who served in the Drayton Hall plantation. It also echoes the artist's own story as daughter of an army officer, growing up in the demilitarized zone in South Korea and continuously on the move from one town to another with her family. Four black carpets with the names of the African-origin slaves who worked in that plantation until their emancipation standing out in white lettering, transformed each of the rooms around the great hall on the first floor of Drayton Hall — the oldest plantation mansion still standing in America, conserved as a jewel of Georgian Palladian architecture. They are acts of meditation on the past and strategically placed in surroundings where the memory of these people who were deprived of freedom has special resonance. In A Lighthouse Woman, the artist uses light, color and sound to transform the abandoned lighthouse in Morris Island (Charleston, South Carolina) into a memorial. Made to commemorate the victims of the civil war fought out on Morris Island where the lighthouse is located, this work is also a tribute to the eternal relationship between light and water, symbolized in the lighthouse itself.

Exhibited in the Vienna Kunsthalle, A Laundry Woman (2002) comprises colorful bedclothes and the sound of Tibetan monks chanting. The bedclothes can be seen from outside through the enormous windows of the Kunsthalle: they are pegged onto ropes, as if hanging on a clothesline. They operate as a metaphor for female roles, establishing a dialogue between the interior space of the Kunsthalle and the urban landscape, between life and art, intimacy and universality.

The organizers of the 2nd Valencia Biennial invited the artist to set up something on an empty site in the city. The resulting Solarscope is a sequence of light with a range of changing colors projected onto a building, conferring life on what had been an abandoned plot of land. In the Rameau palace in Lille (France) her Lotus: Zone of Zero (2003) was an installation of three-hundred and seven lights with music. The red bulbs hang in a lotus-flower arrangement in the circular hall of the building. The space is flooded with the sound of Tibetan, Gregorian and Islamic chant. Over and above the eye-catching beauty of the installation, it is a call to peace, love and understanding amongst human beings.

A Mirror Woman - the ground of nowhere (2003) was installed on a roundabout at the Honolulu city-hall in Hawaii. The piece formed part of Crossings 2003: Korea / Hawaii, a series of activities organized to celebrate one century of Korean immigration to the United States. A fine gauze curtain hangs eighteen meters from the ground, rolled up at the base to form a huge cylindrical tube, six meters in diameter. The sky is reflected in the mirrored flooring. Walking or lying on this mirror/floor, visitors can only see the cobalt-blue sky with its white clouds and their own reflection. The piece tries to capture the atmosphere of hope, excitement and homesickness that the Korean immigrants must have felt on arriving in the United States, the sense of nothingness that must have overwhelmed this first wave of newcomers arriving on the island of Hawaii one hundred years earlier.

Four sound-channels broadcast Tibetan, Islamic and Gregorian chants, which inundated one of the rooms at The Project in New York, for which Kimsooja conceived Mandala: Zone of Zero, in 2003. Creating a space for isolation, meditation and daydreams, she placed a brightly colored juke-box speakers on each of the four walls of the room, exploiting their formal similarity to traditional Buddhist mandalas to imbue an object of Western pop culture with Eastern religious connotations. The mixture of chants issuing from the record-players surround and envelope the spectator with their beams of sound. Reflecting their assimilation of different cultures, social contexts and aesthetics, this installation explores the notion of unity and totality according to which mind and body are spiritually united.

In 2003, following up the idea of playing with light and color already used in some of her site-specific projects, such as A Lighthouse Woman and Solarscope, the artist made a set of videos experimenting with sequences of light and the color palette, employing its beauty and energy to play with different frequencies and rhythms. Invisible Mirror, Invisible Needle and A Wind Woman belong to this series. In the first, the colors change their range and intensity slowly, almost imperceptibly, until they have exhausted the entire color spectrum. In the second, the speed of sequencing increases until it becomes so frenetic that the eye can barely perceive the tonality of the colors whizzing across the screen. The third, A Wind Woman is a work on Nature. It was first shown in the United States at the Henry Art Gallery and then presented for the first time in Europe at the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa exhibition in Venice. The artist created an abstract painting in the style of Gerhard Richter, using her video camera to record high-speed Nature. All three are silent videos where the only sound is in our imagination. The first two have been put together in a single video-installation into which The Weaving Factory 5.1 has been synchronized. This latter piece was made in 2004 with the sound of the artist breathing. The ensemble, entitled To Breathe / Respirare (Invisible Mirror, Invisible Needle), was presented at the Fenice Theatre in Venice on 27th January 2006 and projected during February and March before the opera performances of the Die Walkure and / Quatro Rusteghi by Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, scheduled in the theatre for this time. Visitors are confronted by a large screen on which all the tonalities of the color range gradually succeed one another. They are surprised by the sound of slow breathing, whose source is intriguingly difficult to identify on entering. The colors, with their different intensities, are shown on a screen which seems to be mirroring the colors thrown back at it from the theatre. Meanwhile, the breathing becomes more intense, deeper, and seems to pervade the entire space. In the first part, the rhythm of the artist's breath speeds up and deepens until it reaches moments of real anguish. In the second, the tone, modulation and rhythm of breathing change as they reach a harmonious crescendo that turns into an anthem, a prayer, a choir, the sound of wind instruments. Visitors are impelled into this experience. Feeling that we form part of the piece, we follow the cadenza and the different rates of air-intake and expulsion. We accompany the breathing with our own feelings of anxiety or relief. As if it were a metaphor for life, we oscillate through the most diverse mood states: from uncertainty to calm, from anguish to respite, from the twinge of danger to real enjoyment. We feel health and sickness, chaos and harmony. The respiration seems to absorb us so deeply that it enters inside our very body. It is a piece that, on its own, acts through contrasts. But placed where it is placed, the simplicity of the breathing and the purity of the light emanating from the colors, harmoniously bathing the space, contrast exquisitely with the baroque style of the theatre.

With a minimum number of simple elements, Kimsooja achieves maximum effects, sensations, emotions and a rich onslaught of ideas and concepts. Her art appeals both to the senses and to the imagination. Its enormous beauty in no way distracts us from the disquieting questions it poses about concepts and situations in our life experience. As an artist who participates in her times and their problems, her work avoids introspection and embraces the world by subjecting it to the wordless scrutiny of her gaze.

Her pieces seem to be enveloped in silence. An aspiration to isolation and withdrawal seeps through videos of her performances, in the installations made with cloths and even in her video-installations with sound. They are an invitation to escape momentarily from the chaos and noise of the world around us, in order to re­encounter our selves and question our relationship with others; to reflect on our place in this world and stare the essential problems of existence in the face. Exhibition space made sanctuary.

For the Palace de Cristal in Madrid, Kimsooja has made To Breathe - A Mirror Woman, comprising an intervention in space and her earlier sound piece, The Weaving Factory, 2004. The project is a logical continuation of her previous works. The artist has exploited the structure of the building, leaving it intact so that it forms a whole with the installation of a mirror on the floor. This acts as a multiplier and a unifier of the original architectural space. Here, Kimsooja submerges us in a transfiguring experience that uses minimal elements: a translucent diffraction grating film covering the glazed dome and wall of the crystal palace, a mirror covering its floor and the sound of her own breathing. We are invited into an experiment with our minds and our senses, to give free rein to our sensorial perception and our imagination.

The title itself not only refers back to other projects in which the artist used mirrors and the sound of her breathing, but also to her work with needles and sewing. As in her video-installations, such as A Needle Woman, where she herself is the needle piercing the crowd, in A Mirror Woman the artist is the mirror; the mirror that reflects and creates reality. Like a surface returning what comes to it, the artist sucks up one reality but reflects another, creating another reality. She is the reflector and also the creator of the reality that the mirror reflects.

The project as a whole also takes us back to her bottari since there too she was enveloping and wrapping. In this case, the author has enveloped the Palacio de Cristal with translucent film. However, whereas the bottari wrapped and transported clothes and belongings over distance, here the building is wrapping us and transporting us through an experience of our bodies, imaginations and senses.

The light shining in from outside enters through the glass of the pavilion and the translucent film disseminates it into rainbow spectra. This not just transforms the view of the exterior we see from inside the palace but also the look and feel of the interior, where the entire structure and the multi-colored rays of light are reflected and re-reflected in the mirrored floor. Seen from outside, the interior of the palace is transformed by the reflection of light and trees. This effect is especially powerful on sunny days. But even when it is overcast, any break in the clouds or in stormy skies, any sunbeam that slips through, increases the contrast levels of the light, thereby creating a multiplicity of rainbows. Similarly, the direct sunlight on the diffraction film produces an additional effect of projecting its spectra onto the interior surface of the palace, where the mirror bounces back the colored light onto the visitors and throughout the interior of the building. We get the impression of being drawn into the rainbows, of forming part of them and becoming one with them. The ad infinitum reproduction of the spectrum varies throughout the day, acquiring different shapes: rays, gusts, aureolae, zigzags, etc. It not only brings to mind the colorful traditional Korean bedding so often used by the artist, but also her work with Nature in A Wind Woman. At certain times of day, depending on the intensity of the light, the glazed structure of the building becomes an abstract painting configured together with the trees in the surrounding gardens.

Natural light, color and sound, all such very ethereal elements, almost tangibly fill the space. There are no objects to distract our gaze. Just light and color. The artist's breathing from her The Weaving Factory performance pours into the space, bouncing back again and again from the mirroring, expanding throughout the interior of the building, becoming one with it and breaking down the barriers between time and space. As the artist explains: "The waves of light and sound, and those of the mirror, breathe and interweave together with our body within the space. I find mirroring to be another way of sewing."

Her slow, soft, scarcely perceptible respiration in the first part of the performance gradually becomes deeper and faster, until its pace becomes unbearable, producing a sensation of anguished discomfort. We experience rapidly changing mood states through the artist's breath pattern, which merges into ours. In the second part, we can hardly make out her breathing, except as background sound. The tone, modulation and rhythm have changed. We would think that it is an external sound, but it is still her own respiration that is creating this rhythmic crescendo, this sensation of harmony, obtaining by superimposing different notes one on top of the other. In both the first and the second part of the performance, the inspiration and expiration is exclusively nasal. She never opens her mouth. However, in the second she not just breathes but actually hums through her nose. The artist considers reflecting to be like breathing, since the structure of both operations is the same; both share the directionality from out to in and in to out so that both extract one reality and create another.

She uses a minimal part of her body to achieve a myriad of sounds, similar to the myriad of light beams produced by the diffraction film. The onslaught of sound and color runs visitors through an entire spectrum of emotions. During the eleven minutes, thirty-eight seconds of the audio performance, we are rocketed from puzzlement to delight, from anxiety to joy, from uncertainty to recognition. Kimsooja is inviting us to take an inward-bound trip: to the inside of the space, the inside of the rainbow, the inside of the mirror, the inside of our breathing. The final destination is inside ourselves. And on this inward trip we come face to face with the other, that other so ever-present in her work. The mirror connects the ego and the alter-ego and reflects the otherness that we always carry within. The mirror attracts and reflects. Reflecting is another way of exteriorizing the ego. Kimsooja is talking to us about the relationship between our body and space. She makes art into an experience of body and mind, of our sensory perception and of our imagination.

Oliva María Rubio is an art historian, curator, and writer, who has been director of exhibitions at La Fábrica, since 2004. She was the Artistic Director of PHotoEspaña (PHE), an International Festival of Photography and Visual Arts celebrated in Madrid (2001-2003), where she programmed around 60 exhibitions. She is a member of numerous juries on art and photography, and a member of the Committee of Visual Arts “Culture 2000 programme”, European Commission, Culture, Audiovisual Policy and Sport, Brussels (2003), the Purchasing Committee at Fonds National d’Art Contemporain (FNAC), Paris 2004-2006, and artistic advisor of the Prix de Photography at Fondation HSBC pour la Photograhie, Paris, 2005.

Oliva María Rubio is also the author of La mirada interior. El surrealismo y la pintura (Madrid, Tecnos, 1994), and writes articles for catalogues, magazines and newspapers. She recently curated Kimsooja's exhibition at Crystal Palace, Madrid, in collaoboration with the Reina Sofia Museum, and the travelling show of Andres Serrano: Salt on the wound, 2006.

* This text was published in Kimsooja: To Breathe - A Mirror Woman, 2006.