...Old fond eyes, Beweep this cause again,
I’ll pluck ye out
And cast you, with the waters that you loose
to temper clay...
–William Shakespeare, King Lear
Sung Hwan Kim describes his video Temper Clay (2012) as “a re-sketching of King Lear.” Borrowing the title from a line in one of Lear’s tirades, Kim was inspired by “a play written around a father and daughters exchanging real estate properties for love, loyalty, and class reaffirmation.” In this video, the artist combines images of his parents’ home in the Hyundai apartment complex in Seoul and his family’s country home, analyzing the dynamics of the contemporary Korean family from the perspective of different generations and social classes.
Kim’s film reflects on matriarchy, domesticity, and Korean society in poetic form: the footage is interspersed with surreal and dreamlike scenes of choreographed actions, strange gestures, and repetitive daily activities. Voiceover and written text from various sources, such as an interview with the artist’s childhood nanny, weave throughout the film. The soundtrack was developed with Kim’s frequent collaborator, the musician David Michael DiGregorio, known as dogr.
This exhibition in the Kravis Studio expands the single-channel video through an installation of drawings and objects created specifically for MoMA. The environment connects the architecture from the video’s fictional world with our experience in the gallery, and illustrates the artist’s distinctive way of intertwining video, music, storytelling, and sculpture within the exhibition space.