Reflections on Kimsooja, Respirar - Una Mujer Espejo

Reflections on Kimsooja, Respirar – Una Mujer Espejo

Kimsooja Respirar – Una Mujer Espejo / To Breathe – A Mirror Woman Palacio de Cristal, Parque del Retiro, Madrid April 27 to July 24, 2006

A one word name refuses gender identity, marital status, socio-political or cultural and geographical identity by not separating the family name and the first name. – Kimsooja, Action 1

It’s 2:50 on a Monday. I should (I know, SSA Clara, I know) be ‘at work’ getting the book releases ready to go. Instead, I’ve been spending a few minutes with a good friend on Google Hangouts. While there, a joyous profusion of rainbow light caught my eye, and I decided to add it to my Rainbow Collection.

(Not the exactly same as Kermit’s Rainbow Connection, but the more I think about it, and the use of the rainbow for Pride and diversity and being transfixed by light through stained glass, sunset in the mountains, mosaics in San Vitale, the more I realize, it’s pretty damned close.)

Sunset over the mountains, viewed from the University of Colorado campus in Boulder.

Boulder Sunset, Phil Armitage, 2000.

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna - ceiling vault

Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna.

The next thing I knew, I’d discovered Kimsooja, an artist who makes me wish I could go back and write my Art History PhD — about her work — and another dimension to my thinking about women’s work and women’s power.


Right after I graduated the college, while I was staying in Paris, [John Cage] had a piece at Paris Biennale. It was an empty container, but there was a panel all the way along the corner of the floor, written in French. In English I would say, “Whether you try to make it or not, the sound is heard.” – Kimsooja on the use of ‘found objects’ in her work, Interview – Kimsooja, It was Just a Dream, Art 21.

After doing sewing practices for more than a decade, I started seeing my body itself as a symbolic needle. But at the same time the truth was already embedded in the nature of the needle, because a needle is a tool that is an extension of our hands and body. And the needle itself is a hermaphrodite-tool that has a masculine and feminine side—a healing part and also a hurting part. So how it functions is always ambiguous. The needle had a complexity in it, and I’ve been pulling out different meanings since I first considered my body as a needle. – Kimsooja, on bottari, sewing, meaning and Needle Woman, Interview – Kimsooja, It was Just a Dream, Art 21

Some people might call it confirmation bias, the way I see reflections of Belasset’s story everywhere. I call it reflection, or maybe concatenation:

When we don’t know, we ask questions. We listen, look, and learn. Like mirror women, we breathe ourselves into the world and it breathes back.