28 Apr 2016 — 31 May 2016
Ah-Bin Shim
Circle Triangle Square

'Circle Triangle Square' the solo exhibition of Ah-Bin Shim, who instigates thinking from the audiences with simple and restrained images of shapes, is held at Gallery2 from 28 April to 31 May 2016.

The movie 'Being John Malkovich' by Spike Jonze begins with Craig, the protagonist of the film, discovers a square cabinet through which he enters the mind of actor John Malkovich. Inside the cabinet, he sees two holes. They are the eyes of John Malkovich. For 15 minutes, he can see the world through the circular frames in the mind of John Malkovich. This calls for a question. Are human mind and body one or separate? The movie 'Being John Malkovich' and the work of Ah-Bin Shim overlap in a sense that they both create a square and circular frame, pose fundamental questions, and display irony through witty situations.

Ah-Bin Shim’s solo exhibition titled 'Circle Triangle Square', which expresses complex questions around human life imposed on humanity through simple and restrained images of shapes. In the exhibition, three pieces of circular, triangular, and square pillars are displayed. The work titled 'Circle' is a 1.9m high cylinder work. Looking down the top of the cylinder from a ladder, audiences find a fish hook. It is as if seeing the world from the view of a fish ready to bite the lure. In Shim’s work, fishing is a metaphor for the reality facing human beings. Once it bites the lure, fish can go outside the ocean. But the outside world is always dangerous. Is this a chance or a crisis? Are we who bit and came out (by accident) into the world enjoying an opportunity or facing a crisis?
The work 'Triangle' allows an audience to put her head into a hole of the work and witness themselves through a mirror installed inside of the work. Every human being came into being through a 'door(or a hole)'. Through this work, we witness the moment of our own birth - pushing our head into a little hole to go into the world. At the intersection where the mirror on the other side and artificial grass meet, there is another small hole. This reminds us of a golf course. The artist found golf, where a player hit and put a ball into small holes in a vast land Mother Nature, to be similar to the process of birth of a human. In fact, the hole is semicircular. It just appears to be a complete circle as it is reflected in the mirror. The illusion of a circle implies the moment of birth and death. Though experienced by everyone, they are no different from a fiction that cannot either be remembered or proved.
In the last piece, 'Square', audiences see a 2m square pillar with a mirror suspended above it. Despite the impression that this mirror reflects the top of the pillar, it actually reflects an image of the pillar's bottom.

In Ah-Bin Shim’s work, one that lures and one that is being lured, life and death, a beginning and an end, are portrayed as a process of circulation rather than an opposition. And that is the answer Shim has for fundamental questions like “What is a human being?” and “What is life?”. It is the answer the artist found through eliminating the complexities of life and a seesaw of emotion, distancing herself from the outside world. This refined idea of the artist is akin to the geometric shapes often used in the work of Shim. Humankind discovered a straight line. A straight line represents the order of the world. Trajectories of change, such as a flock of birds flying in a line, the regular pattern of the seasons, and the cycle of birth and death, induced humans to recognize a straight line. And a straight line forms a square, a triangle, and a circle. The theory of the round sky and the square earth (天圓地方說), the vision of the universe in ancient China, translated the order of the world - the sky is round and the earth is square - into geometric shapes. The ancient people already realized that an invisible concept or order cannot be represented through an earthly object.

When a theme and an image disaccord, we are confused. It is impossible to select universal shapes that anyone could understand when creating an image for something incapable of being represented as an image. Also, regardless of which shape is selected, that shape will be by no means neutral either. We should not mistake an artist as a psychic medium. They are not a creature that resurrects something absent with a magical power. That is why Ah-Bin Shim’s work calls for thinking rather than understanding. Understanding consists in knowing. Knowing arises from the similarities between a theme and an image. However, thinking comes from the absence of knowing. The work of Ah-Bin Shim does not showcase the artist’s technical abilities, nor represent a phenomenon, nor recall something absent into being. Instead, it induces the viewers to think through the universal absence of knowing and restraint. We ought to invade a general idea and paralyse a convention. It is for the audiences, not the artist, to have a sympathetic and introspective moment through this exhibition. In the movie, 'Being John Malkovich', what Craig’s wife Lotte said in such an excited voice - “Being inside did something to me. All of a sudden everything made sense. I knew who I was!” - after experiencing John Malkovich’s body, is very meaningful.