Working across sculpture, performance, video, installation and public intervention, the South Korean artist Minouk Lim (임민욱) is best known for exploring themes around the human costs of modernisation and state violence. Drawing from her personal life and expanding into wider societal issues, Lim investigates the crossroads between the individual and the community, the native and the immigrant, the past and the present.Read More
Lim's works attempt to unearth the underbelly of modernisation, particularly the unrelenting destruction and redevelopment that began in the 1970s in South Korea. New Town Ghost (2005), one of her most iconic works, documents a drive through the streets of Yeongdeungpo. A district in Seoul that the artist had been living in at the time, Yeongdeungpo was selected for massive urban renewals. As a result, the government evicted its residents to make room for high-rising apartments and new facilities. In her protest against the resulting demolition of homes and displacement of families, Lim films a slam poet who repeatedly shouts, 'I have nowhere to go. I'm a new-town ghost.'
The history of such state violence in South Korea is a frequent theme in Lim's works. With the onset of the Korean War, the South Korean government under Seung Man Lee sanctioned a massacre against a civilian population that was suspected of cooperating with the North. Three decades later, the military dictator Doohwan Chun labeled the protesters in Gwangju as communists and ordered them to be slaughtered in what came to be known as the May 18 Democratic Uprising. Both histories are seldom talked about in South Korea today and constitute a past that many people wish to forget.
Lim collaborates with survivors and families of victims of both atrocities to increase visibility and to remind her audience that such histories are hardly over. The Hole-in-Chest Nation (2014), which presents human remains made of wood, metal, and synthetic hair, references the broader history of state violence in South Korea. In Navigation ID (2014)—a performance at the 10th Gwangju Biennial—the artist commemorated the May 18 Democratic Uprising by inviting families of the victims to lead funeral processions by travelling in a bus alongside a container carrying the human remains. Lim later reused the recorded footage of Navigation ID in another work, From X to A (2015), which juxtaposed the experiences of children who lost their parents in the Korean War civilian massacres with those of parents who lost their children in the Democratic Uprising.
Lim studied Painting at Ewha Womans University in Seoul and completed her studies at École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris in 1994. Now living and working in Seoul, she has exhibited internationally in Centre Pompidou, Paris (2017); Portikus, Frankfurt (2015); PLATEAU Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2015); Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis (2012); and Artsonje Centre, Seoul (2008), among others. Her works have featured in numerous international exhibitions, notably Sydney and Taipei Biennials (2016); Gwangju Biennial (2014, 2008, 2006); Paris Triennale (2012); Liverpool Biennial (2010); and Istanbul Biennial (2007). In 2007 Lim received the 7th Hermès Foundation Missulsang Prize.
Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018