YoungEun Kim

Visitor Welcome Center presents Bones of Sound, a solo exhibition of work by YoungEun Kim made between 2017 - 2019. This is the artist’s first US solo presentation of her work.

YoungEun Kim’s work is situated within the ecology of sound in the social sphere. Through installations, videos, and texts, Kim rearranges the experiences of sound used in defining political and cultural moments to speak to how sound is embodied and instrumentalized.

The invisible and intangible nature of sound lends itself to a vehicle for control, rebellion and liberation. The text and sound based video, Red Noise Visit(2018), spotlights two opposing sounds—a curfew siren and radio waves—that were used during Korea’s modernization. The siren controlled the affect of citizens and their bodies during the anti-socialist era, while radio waves crossed freely between borderlines. The video begins with the memory of local residents who recall the siren wailing from a red bricked watchtower, and expands into the institution of the national curfew siren. It then centers the memory of a former spy during the 1960s who listened to the broadcasts from South Korea while in the North. In the sixties, the press labeled the sound of radio signals as “Red Noise.” The texts in the video are collected from news articles, interviews, and essays describing memories of the siren and radio. Electroacoustic techniques, recorded voice and found objects, recomposed siren and radio sounds are embedded in the video.

Within the Korean DMZ, military troops experience sonic weapon attacks broadcasted through dozens of loudspeakers blasting weather forecasts, K-pop, and news reports critical of the North. Guns and Flowers: Sculpted two love songs(2017 - ) is an ongoing work that reflects upon the irony of the State weaponizing pop music and the complex sensations the troops experienced as a result of these broadcasts. Inspired by the power of a collective body, Kim looked to Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement, a 79-day occupation in favor of more transparent elections. The song, “Happy Birthday,” was used as a nonviolent way to counter vocal critics and governmental antagonism. During the protest, a megaphone button was unintentionally pressed, triggering the song to sound, leading to an enthusiastic applause and a mass sing-a-long. Flesh of Sound(2017 - ) draws directly from this event. A single voice is gradually enriched into a chorus through an additive process of layering multiple recordings of that same voice to transform into a collective one. Rooted in political moments, Kim proposes the possibility of rearranging our habits of assembly through the recontextualization of sound.

In 2012, a local journalist employed by a Seoul-based newspaper recorded a phone conversation with his interviewee. After the interview, the interviewee did not push the “end” button on his phone, and the journalist inadvertently listened in on a subsequent conversation between the interviewee and other parties. The journalist published the contents of this conversation in the newspaper, and was charged with violating Korea’s Protection of Communications Secrets Act. In the trial, the court ruled that the defendant was not guilty for recording, but that he was guilty for listening. 
The artist takes this event as a point of departure in Transcribed Dialogues (2019 - ), in which she reveals and obscures conversations overheard from recordings that she made in public spaces. Here, Kim explores the boundaries between hearing and listening, a private and public aural space in the form of a text. Through politicized experiences, the artist disorients our relationship to power and shifts our politics of listening with her work. The reverberations are evocative and chilling.

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YoungEun Kim(b.1980, Seoul; lives and works in Los Angeles) studied Sonology at the Royal Conservatory of the Hague in the Netherlands, and received MFA from the Korea National University of Arts and BFA from Hongik University in Korea. She was an artist-in-residence at Q-O2 in Brussels (2018) and Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam (2014-2015). She has had solo exhibitions at Cake Gallery+Solomon Building, Seoul (2014); Seoul Art Space Mullae (2011); Project Space Sarubia, Seoul (2011); Alternative Space Loop, Seoul (2009), and Insa Art Space, Seoul (2006). Her work has been commissioned by and included in group exhibitions at Arko Art Center (2018), SongEun Art Space (2017), Seoul Museum of Art (2016), Leeum: Samsung Museum of Art (2016), and many others. Her works are in the collections of National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Korea, Seoul Museum of Art, and others. She won the Grand Prize at SongEun Art Award and Honorary Mentions at Prix Ars Electronica in 2017. She received grants and fellowships from Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Mondriaan Fund, Arts Council Korea, and Seoul Foundation for Arts and Culture.


Support for this exibition was provided bFoundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.

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