You’d be forgiven if you needed a quick primer on Minouk Lim. You’d also have to forgive us for not being completely capable of offering one.
Because Lim, the beguiling, fast-rising Korean art star, is little known in the United States. Nevermind the fact that, over the last six years or so, she’s become a bigger and bigger blip at international—albeit small-profile—biennials (Istanbul, Liverpool). Or the fact that she’s netted a pair of major—albeit mostly recognized in Asia—art awards. She’s scarcely ever shown in America. In fact, when her alien, ominous works invade Walker Art Center this weekend—including a tantalizingly outré, world-premiere choreography collaboration tomorrow night—it will be her first ever major U.S. museum exhibition. Right here in Minnesota.
This, folks, is a major get. And we have the Walker’s new senior curator Clara Kim to thank for it.
So. What’s the show going to be like?
Stills from The
Weight of Hands
Thematically, it sounds wildly, bleakly sci-fi—appropriately Korean, in the sense that it’s inspired by a place, Seoul, that’s hit a geo-political warp from blighted Cold War footnote to modern icon of hyper-speed commerce and globalism. The mystical power of heat is a theme. So is pilgrimage. There’s talk of high-stakes time compression, of mashing the future into the past in order to protect the yet-to-come. Lim has said that the three videos in her Walker exhibition—New Town Ghost, S.O.S.–Adoptive Dissensus, The Weight of Hands— are “journeys of the 25th hour—a time, it is said, when people are beyond help, despite the second coming of the Messiah.”
Pretty intense stuff. Art Forum called New Town Ghost, a mini-doc that trails a slam poet with a megaphone through a Yeongdeungpo district in Seoul, a “visceral hymn to urban redevelopment.” S.O.S. follows nighttime passengers on a Han River cruise boat who encounter performances staged along the riverbanks. An infrared camera records the warmth emanating from “pilgrims” traveling to restricted construction sites in The Weight of Hands.
But we’re most stoked about Thursday night’s dance performance. Thanks to a one-off Walker commission, Lim has collaborated with local choreographer Emily Johnson on something called “Firecliff 3.” From the press release:
“…the exhibition includes a series of Lim’s wearable sculptures commissioned by the Walker. Using thermofoam, a plastic sculpted by heat, and a variety of other synthetic and natural materials, [Lim] conceived these works as protective, totemic shields for use in an imagined apocalyptic landscape. On the exhibition’s opening night, Lim and Johnson will incorporate the works in a performance based around themes of nature, myth, and civilization…”
We are totally there.
Minouk Lim: Heat of Shadows
Opens May 31
May 31, 7 p.m.