I have just done a quick dash to the Baltic Flour Mill, where they have two works on display by Kimsooja which both blew me away: Needle Woman and Laundry Woman.
In A Laundry Woman – Yamuna River, India 2005, a video is projected onto a huge screen, Kimsooja stands completely motionless with her back to the viewer on the bank of the river just down river from a crematorium. As she stands various things float slowly past, flotsam, jetsam, vegetation. The sky is not seen due the angle of the camera onto the river, but the reflection of birds flying above is seen in the water. The work is totally immersing.
A Needle Woman – 1999 – 2001. These pictures below are 4 of 8 videos in this piece of work, each shown, silent, on a huge screen in one huge room. The people flow around and past Kimsooja who stands silently with her back to the viewer.. some of the passers by look at her curiously but most don’t. The people seemed most hurried and uninterested in London, and most curious and unhurried in Lagos. After watching all the videos for a while it feels like a river of humanity passing by a fixed point.
Kimsooja has been compared with Casper David Friedrich, for obvious reasons.
When artists like her and El Anatsui are producing so much brilliant stuff, and all we hear about is the likes of Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin (which isn’t to take away from them) it makes me realise how nationalistic is the contemporary art debate.