Today we’d like to introduce you to Sujin Kim.
Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?
If someone asked me who inspired me to be a filmmaker, I would say “That is Michelangelo Buonarroti.”. To be more precise, one of his sculptures, Pieta, made me start filmmaking. Everyone told me that seeing Michelangelo’s Pieta was one of the most amazing moment to see the great art piece. However, when I saw Pieta in person when I was 22 years old in Vatican, I felt disagreeability. As a woman who grew up in a conservative Korean society that sneakily taught women to conform to certain limited gender roles, I felt that Pieta was one of the typical social symbols which delivers the message that being a selfless mother is the only desirable role for women. For me, there was no space for daughters like me and other identities that women could have. That moment, I wanted to illustrate a girl who destroys the religiously beloved icon Pieta and replaces Jesus on the lap of Mary, occupying a formerly male spaced and eventually carving out her own new symbol. I thought making film is the only way to realize my idea. That was how I started filmmaking. Interestingly, I finished this film project after six years, which means it is my most recent film for now.
Please tell us about your art.
My practice includes live-action, performance, experimental CG animation, and experimental black and white animation. The main topic that I have been pursuing through my artistic practice is an investigation of the invisible rules and expectations which exist under power structures. In particular, my work focuses on gender discrimination and frustration which I have observed and experienced as a female in my culture and society. My society teaches women to conform to submissive gender roles, and men to expect a superior status. Paradoxically, the power structures that elevate men in society inadvertently make men the victim of hierarchy as well. My artistic interest has naturally been expanded from feminism into the social power structures which oppress human’s uniqueness and diversity. I am also interested in the resilient human energy shown when an individual’s uniqueness and creativity are challenged by the rules and expectations imposed by society. I want my art to be a strong visual tool which helps people bravely come face to face with their fears, anxiety, and scares made by power structures. I really believe we can overcome and conquer injustice by visualizing it bravely.
Do you have any advice for other artists? Any lessons you wished you learned earlier?
When I was in university, I learned how to develop a critical awareness about my work and strengthen my own working methodologies firmly. However, I think no one actually taught me how to search and find the platforms to show my works in public and let me seriously know the importance of joining competition or film festivals. I think it is really important to strike the balance between creating your pieces and revealing yourself actively in public even through small exhibitions and film festivals. I saw many friends who have great talent in art and created great pieces but didn’t try their best to show their works and communicate with the exterior world. If you are lazy about submitting your pieces, participating in competitions, and applying for grants or fundings, you might gain less practical achievements for the next steps than your colleague who has more energy to promote themselves to the world.
How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
When I was a teenager, I was strictly trained in conventional painting. Also, I worked as a painter for a while. I can tell that my artistic background is painting. The thing that made me feel uncomfortable about painting is that painting had less accessibility than media works. I really didn’t like that people could enjoy my works entirely only in the gallery, which is a white cube and passive way to show artworks for me. That’s why I choose film as my new media. I love film and video because people could approach them easily. I have a principle about sharing my film works. Once I complete a new film, I usually upload it immediately to Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/sujinart. Also, I actively submit my film to many film festivals around the world. You can check my film at various film festivals. My recent experimental animation were screened in many film festivals including Annecy International Animated Film Festival, International Short Film Festival Berlin, Anima Mundi, ANIMA-Cordoba International Animation Festival, EMAP, Festival international de Montréal, Insomnia Animation Festival, Los Angeles Film Festival and so on. You can check my illustrations and films on www.sujinart.com as well. You can see my film at the upcoming 42nd Denver Film Festival in November.
- Address: 25399 The Old Rd, Stevenson Ranch, CA 91381
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