I want to be like I wasn’t there, but…

Mihee Ahn (Chief of exhibition, Gwangju Biennale)

In his first solo exhibition <I want to be like I wasn’t there>, Dae-hyun Kim shows series of drawings along with an animation as extension. The artist, who has continuously presented in front of the public the stories of people on existence and relationship in the form drawings, like diaries or records, uniquely conveys the story of himself, who denies to be special.

A human figure, composed of organic lines, along with the duplication of the same image, proliferated from the form, are often found in Kim’s drawings. The gesture between the characters becomes an important factor in constituting a new narrative. The two of them look so much the same as if they are facing a mirror, yet there exists a subtle difference. They reflect the artist’s long-lasting interest on the relationship between a self and the other, or another self, and the repetitive form, indicative of the ‘self’, gives us a complicated feeling by simultaneously revealing both intimacy and unfamiliarity. The figures, concisely visualized by black ink lines on a white paper, have faces with no expressions in which emotion is eliminated, and mostly look at the sides or each other, but never stare the front. Their gazes suggest that the two people are withdrawing themselves into their own world without being aware of others outside the scene, entirely representing the appearance of ‘Alter Ego’, the other self.

The animation <Poetry-drawing Machine>, exhibited together with other works, is the extension of the drawings, as well as realization of the expanded work. In order to intentionally emphasize the meaning that his work was done through a different medium, without intervention of the artist himself, Kim elaborates the characteristics of his work with the title <Poetry-drawing Machine>. The work consists of two screens: one on the left shows text, and images of animation composed of the original drawings are located on the right. Each sentence in the text, at first, seems to be phrases in a difficult poetry, yet they are actually produced by automatic combination of meaningless words that the artist arranged through computer programming. Similarly, the animation on the right is also randomly compounded with drawings of people in various poses mixed with different backgrounds. The work reminds of surrealistic dépaysement, in which heterogeneous elements are juxtaposed to wake new senses. Indeed, sentences, such as ‘above 108 fat clever thorns’, put side by side with a scene, in which two figures face each other against the inflating moon that seem to explode soon, are creating an eccentric and unfamiliar scene by placing familiar words and images in a highly improbable relationship. He frequently uses subject matters such as scissors or needles to emphasize the unfamiliarity which, in turn, forms a new relationship and expands our emotional grounds through disparate grafts.

Kim has commented in his artist note that “If the artist can disappear and hide well, people find meaningful and important something from the work. I don’t want to disturb the process.” He seems to have found an ideal way to conceal himself inside the work using images and words, chosen by random and if functions programmed without any motive or purpose. However, the new creation formed depending on automatic combinations, as an extreme mean to hide, after all, exposed the other self residing inside of him through the mixture of images and words chosen by the artist himself. In other words, Kim’s attempt to hide his self behind the coincidence created through mechanical programming, ironically, revealed the artist more clearly and evidently.

The current Kim’s exhibition <I want to be like I wasn’t there> seems to speak for the ordinary selves constantly asking trifle and common questions from inside on relationship among people that everyone would have once experienced and came into conflict. As some aspects of me could be found through interacting with others, the two human figures in Kim’s works represent my other self inside which clearly visualizes the relationship between me and the other. It is very private and personal, but the story is about universal existences and relationships, as well as a shy speaking of the artist himself on others.