CCA  Center for Contemporary Art and Ecology 

02 December 2023 – 11 February 2024

Junghun Kim


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The work of Junghun Kim addresses the scope of man-made ecological wounds on the planet’s interspecies relationships. As a response, Kim aspires to overstep the physical and spiritual thresholds towards more embodied and regenerative ways of living on Earth. Informed by research on evolutionary biology—including molecular DNA, comparative embryology, fossil records, and anatomical evidence—cosmologies, and technologies of extraction, the exhibition BREATHE A MENDING SONG INTO THESE EARTHLY WOUNDS cultivates a practice of attunement and resilience, to address narratives around the critical state of the planetary ecologies. Encompassing ceramic, painting, sculpture, installation, and meditation, Junghun Kim’s work is an invitation to sharpen our senses in imaginative, meditative, and spiritual ways in order to navigate anthropocentric wounds. This exhibition is a proposition to re-situate ourselves within a planet that is relational and contingent, for what we make of it is woven with larger systems of reciprocity and responsibility.

The works in this exhibition are poetic, spiritual, and political instances revealing the scope of ecological causalities which have been deliberately placed outside the vision field of anthropocentrism. Kim’s works reflect on the systematic ruination of capitalist development, whereby interspecies relationships are continuously being wounded by exhausting and nonreciprocal interventions on the biosphere. Through an acute sensitivity and imagination, Kim seeks ways to spirit through these wounds to foster more sustainable and spiritual adjustments to the world, towards the apprehension of ecological wisdoms of care. Encompassing ceramic, painting, sculpture, installation, and meditation, Kim’s work is an invitation to sharpen our senses in imaginative, meditative, and spiritual ways. Reckoning with the Earth’s critical drift, he raises awareness of the planet’s vital interdependencies so as to interrupt harmful anthropocentric patterns and recalibrate humanity’s ecological compass. In this exhibition, Kim assembles physical and spiritual thresholds to apprehend the complex and unbalanced state of our interspecies relations, steering towards more embodied and regenerative ways of living on Earth.

Junghun Kim, Integrative Breathing, Geological Meditation Series, 2022. Photo: Steven Maybury.

The hurtling pace of development in technological systems, with a long and chronic dependency on the extraction of natural resources and the totalising management of the living, hinders possibilities of setting and distributing sustainable and reciprocal perspectives. The internal logic of seemingly smoothly functioning capitalistic systems is articulated on overriding any kind of existence but the human one. As Timothy Morton argues, this supremacy of human existence—with its own arbitrary hierarchies based on categories like gender, race, class, sexual orientation, etc.—is both a default ontology and a default utilitarianism that was built into the social space, which presently encompasses much of the entire surface of the Earth. As explored in RADIUS’ NATURECULTURES year-programme, modernity, hand in hand with technological progress, was built on a severance between nature and culture, eroding the social, philosophical, and physic ties with all that is not human. Mending that severance is an intrinsic goal of Kim’s practice, as he navigates the wounds of modernity through a holistic practice that seeks to establish solidarity, empathy, care, kinship, and love.

Kim has been attentive to ecological entanglements since his upbringing in the mountainous, small rural communities around Gyeongju, South Korea. Growing up, he became a keen observer of plant and animal behaviour and emotions, acquiring a comprehension on the physical and spiritual interconnectedness between species in an ecosystem, understanding that any degradation of nature entails a degradation of the soul. The literary work of Chicana feminist and scholar Gloria E. Andalzúa resonantly connects with Kim as a spiritual artist. In line with Andalzúa’s ideas, Kim’s practice inscribes art as a spiritual discipline, in which spirituality is a different kind and way of knowing that aims to expand perception and to become aware of the interconnections between all things by attaining a grand perspective. For Kim, just like for Anzaldúa, spirituality is a web of symbols, a philosophy, a worldview, a perspective, a perception; in other words, it is an intrinsic element in the human constructions of the world. Kim’s artistic gestures are always informed by what Anzaldúa describes as coming to terms with spirit: bringing yourself into harmony with the world within and around you. Through his meditative pathway to creativity—informed by a meditation practice that underlines similitudes between objects that reveal the boundless interrelations in an ecosystem—Kim empowers his imagination to bypass customary ways of thinking and behaving that are reinforced by a nonreciprocal relationality with the world.

Still image from Junghun Kim's film From the cells of the Mother (2023).

Junghun Kim’s work calls for kinds of being in the world that are committed to to notice interdependencies and act upon them responsibly. To attain a broader panoramic wherein to situate our vital experiences within larger webs of relations, spaces, and times. His artistic practice echoes Alexis Shotwell’s call for the cultivation of practices of perceiving interdependence, nourishing an ethical relation to complex ecologies in which we are implicated and through which we are formed. Precisely this juncture of attentiveness and altruism is what makes Kim’s work a dutiful reminder of our shared responsibility as non-exclusive dwellers to a multi-scalar planet. While we experience his work, he keeps on breathing, adding his exhale to the millions of years of breath and time shared with all kinds of earthly inhabitants that have preceded us and that will survive us. All the while, he tries to mend the severances that alienate us, for these earthly wounds of ours can still be a stitch away from mending.

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  1. Timothy Morton, Being Ecological (London: Pelican Books), p. 66. 
  2. Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Light in the Dark, Luz en lo Oscuro, edited by Analouise Keating (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015), p. 38. 
  3. Carolyn F. Strauss, ‘Seeking Radical Affection’, in Slow Spatial Reader. Chronicles of Radical Affection, ed. Carolyn F. Strauss (Valiz: Amsterdam, 2021), p. 15. 
  4. Alexis Shotwell, Against Purity. Living Ethically in Compromised Times (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2016), p. 79. 
  5. The term “multi-scalar” is a paraphrasis of what author Gabrielle Hecht coined as “interscalar vehicles”. This term was used in her paper ‘Interscalar Vehicles for an African Anthropocene: On Waste, Temporality, and Violence’, which appeared in the journal Cultural Anthropology, volume 33, no. 1 (2018). In her own words, interscalar vehicles are “objects and modes of analysis that permit scholars and their subjects to move simultaneously through deep time and human time, through geological space and political space.” 

Curated by Sergi Pera Rusca.

BREATHE A MENDING SONG INTO THESE EARTHLY WOUNDS has been made possible the support of the Gieskes-Strijbis Fonds, Municipality of Delft, Mondriaan Fund, Iona Stichting, Stichting Stokroos, Arts Council Korea. We thank them all kindly for their support!