29 Apr 2017 — 27 May 2017
Jiye Kim
Saint Cherry

Those who get infuriated by the destruction of a sacred statue are ones that admire the statue itself. And those who are content to see a sacred statue being admired by believers are ones that admire the statue itself too. Does the statue of the Virgin Mary really shed tears? No, it does not. While those who do not believe in such a thing may criticize those who submit themselves to the sacred statue, they do not venture to destroy or profane the sacred statue. There is not a thing in an object itself. It’s that human desires are reflected onto the surface of an object. What can I call it other than magic?
Kim Jiye exhibits work that she transforms and recomposes. Her work is derived from a tactile sense rather than a visual sense. The artist’s work, which is particularly tactile, induces a strange impulse to touch something that should not be touched or cannot be reached. It’s been said that the artist imagined an impulse to touch something that cannot be touched. To the artist, the process of making work is synonymous with playing with the Mimi (doll). She colors objects and combines disparate objects together as if she is a hairdresser. For no object in the work can oppose humans, it becomes a spiritual realm dominated by humans and a special some meaning the artist signifies. That is when an ordinary object becomes a specific object.
It’s been said that Kim’s habit is collecting dolls. She like arranging dolls and decorating them. In Littr?, a classic French dictionary, it defines the meaning of collecting as “all that cause and motivation of passion and an object beloved especially.” Things that are collected are not for use but ownership itself, and it is related to their sensibilities rather than functions. The act of collecting entails sorting, arranging, and handling collections. It is a grand scheme to achieve a complete integration based on the subjectivity of the objects. Therefore, collecting is an arrangement of identity rather than items. If one argues that her work, which collected and transformed objects of her interest, seems to reflect the fragments of Kim’s personality, what would she say to that?
The work of manipulating objects, as opposed to creating a form with raw materials, is a kind of a transfer process. The selection of an object is equivalent to the creation of work. To create work is to give a new meaning to an object, paying attention to the object as a main character. The artist said that the act of collecting and transforming things in everyday life cannot be art by itself. That is to say, each piece is not independent nor complete work. However, the artist’s work reaches the destination (outcome) of the transfer process when it is displayed in the exhibition room. They eventually become arranged as a work of art in the gallery and when the exhibition is displayed, all become complete as art. Although this is a story with a well-constructed passage, it should not be understood in a single context. It is only a temporal space of sharing for broken and unsteady things.
The solo exhibition Saint Cherry reveals the artist’s imagination about the magical effect imbued with the statue of Virgin Mary. If we believe a thing obtains a magic effect through a meaning, a sacred statue which embodies the divine exudes the strongest effect. The artist dares to imagine what might exist inside of the white and slick surface of the holy statue. If her previous work was to transform objects, this exhibition highlights the artist’s direct involvement of creating a pottery form. What the artist portrayed through the ceramics is organs. It’s been said that the artist imagined if there were organs, they would look like this. The slippery texture of the organs is present through the baked clay and application of glaze. The torso piece presented alongside it is the artist’s (unholy) sacred statue decorated with barnacles, ceramics, and moss dyed in red.
A sacred statue and a doll, which take a human form, have even stronger alliance with humans. For they never speak to us, they are remotely present somewhere unreachable. And at the same time, they are infinite beings that will never run out of human imagination and desire, for we always speak to them. They are beings residing on the boundary of this world and that world. Human desire and imagination (including a doll and sacred statue) delight objects and motivate the act of collecting. Hence, an object is not a mere material but the third domain in between reality and unreality. The question of what is an object is ultimately the question of what is a human being, in other words. Kim Jiye’s exhibition Saint Cherry is a space that all of sudden appears before us as a magical world?a human and an object.
Installation view