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Over the past two decades, New York–based artist Sung Hwan Kim (Korean, born 1975) has produced lyrical multimedia installations and performances that merge the mythological and the everyday. Through his distinctive method of intertwining video, music, storytelling, and sculpture within the gallery space, Kim has developed a unique narrative approach to migration, immigration, translation, and regeneration.
For this event the artist premieres his most recent single-channel film, Hair is a piece of head, part of a larger, multipart research project titled A Record Drifting across the Sea (2017–ongoing), based on the artist’s exploration of undocumented Korean immigrant histories at the turn of the 20th century, and their lack of visual and cultural representation in the US educational system. The film focuses specifically on Korean migration to Hawaiʻi, which the artist notes is an “integral point of passage for most, if not all, first immigrants crossing the Pacific, including Koreans, and historically the first ‘US soil’ that many migrants encountered. This historicizing is often oblivious to the dwindling fate of another nation, that of kānaka maoli, Native Hawaiians.” The film is spoken in Korean, Mandarin, English, and Hawaiian in order to weave together the different subjectives embedded in different languages. It was filmed using the “Live Photos” feature on an iPhone, which allows the point-and-shoot camera to shift focal length and lights, creating the effect of bracketing a moment and binding psychological ambiguity with the certainty of images.
The premiere of Hair is a piece of head coincides with the exhibition Sung Hwan Kim’s Temper Clay, on view at the Museum June 5–18, 2021.
Sung Hwan Kim. Hair is a piece of head. 2021. Video (color, stereo sound), 23 min. Screenplay, cinematography, editing, makeup, and sound design by Sung Hwan Kim. Music, foley, sound recording, and synthesis by David Michael DiGregorio, aka dogr. Studio and production assistance by Suin Kwon. Music: “Ching loop and variations” (2020), composed and performed by David Michael DiGregorio aka dogr; “Mauʻumae haiku” (2020), composed and performed by David Michael DiGregorio aka dogr and Sung Hwan Kim; “Ching radio ditty” (2020), composed and performed by David Michael DiGregorio aka dogr. Tenacious models (in order of appearance): David Michael DiGregorio, Suin Kwon, Yoon Jin Kim. One-day models (in order of appearance): Geoffrey Farmer carries the head of David Michael DiGregorio, Emma Broderick carries the head of Hannah Broderick, Ahukiniakealohanui Fuertes sits with Fu Manchu makeup from the 1940s, Drew Kahu‘āina Broderick stands next to a tree with Fu Manchu makeup from the 1940s, Jae Soon Jang is physically trained by Sung Hoon Lee, Jung Sook Kim teaches how to tie a knot in goreum on the jeogori on her, Drew Kahu‘āina Broderick carries the head of Maile Meyer, Maile Meyer carries the head of Drew Kahu‘āina Broderick. Voiceover (in order of emergence): Xiaoyu Weng, Sung Hwan Kim, Ahukiniakealohanui Fuertes, Auliʻi Mitchell, Byungjun Kwon. Translations by Ahukiniakealohanui Fuertes, Sung Hwan Kim, Xiaoyu Weng. Hair is a piece of head was commissioned by Gwangju Biennale Foundation. © 2021 Sung Hwan Kim
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