video collage for (Un)Earthly Delights (2022) exhibition at Gallery4Culture, Seattle, WA, edited by Janet Galore
(Un)Earthly Delights is an exhibition about this moment, clutched between earthly pleasures and planetary blights, wrapped in plastic fluorescence.
Cloaked, soaked, and drenched deep under the opaque layers of its postcolonial capitalist crusade history, plastic hides in plain sight in all its glory and infamy. It camouflages itself into our daily lives in its ubiquity and instantaneity, by being the go-to substitute for all our immediate needs from birth to death. It engenders multitudes of surrogacy, everything from food containers, life-saving medical devices, to our always gyrating lover that lives in our bedside table. Of course, its reverse effects are, if not more, just as far-reaching and consequential. Even after having transformed generations of livelihoods, environments, and cultures in the matter of a century, plastic is still incredibly good at hiding its past and future. It is always ready to shine and allure us into the present with its diaphanous illusion of permanence, reproducibility, and of course, plasticity.
Out of all its characteristics, that malleability is probably what makes plastic the ultimate material embodying modernity and universality. Yet, it is perhaps the hardest and the most stubborn material there is. It is hard and stubborn because it refuses its environment, creating a sealant or barrier that remains impermeable to what surrounds it. But then, the lifespans of plastic products are often extremely short, and once purpose served, they turn into a kind of “living walking dead” among us. Despite, and perhaps because of, this uncannily idiosyncratic yet duplicitous nature, plastic continues to be a source of curiosity for me, if it hasn’t already consumed and become part of me. I’m still learning to deal with it, learning to take care of it, and making something out of it, since it is our making after all.
So, with all the campy and perversely self-reflexive queeny welcome I can muster, I invite you to (Un)Earthly Delights, with a hope that it will be an opportunity to imagine an alternative to the relationship we have with this material, both as a remedy and as a practical caution.
-Philippe Hyojung Kim
All documentations of (Un)Earthly Delights viewed here are from July 2022 solo exhibition at Gallery 4Culture, Seattle, WA.
Photo Credit: Joe Freeman and Jueqian Fang.
The Gilded Cage is an installation of artwork by Philippe Hyojung Kim and Nicholas Nyland which is designed to be encountered by peering through the Slip gallery storefront window in Tacoma, WA. The sculptural elements include Kim’s cast resin and plaster “jellies” that catch the light with their sensual and richly colored organic forms. Nyland’s tufted sculpture is an ambiguous figural form that suggests a place of repose for the viewer and an object of the viewer’s gaze. The title is a reference to the film by James Bidgood whose erotically charged work was constructed out of clever use of cheap and overtly synthetic materials which were transformed into a fantasy world when viewed through the lens of his camera. Considering that we have all been placed into relative isolation, this moment is turning us all into voyeurs who now access our world through the images of our computers and phones. The Gilded Cage is a site of reflection for the anxieties of our current existence and an opportunity for relief where the viewer may project themselves into a scene of pleasurable forms and color.
(Un)Earthly Delights. 2020.
Mixed media installation w/ urethane resin, rubber, silicone, plaster casts. 54” x 48” x 6”.
Jelly Jelly Jolly Jealy Jello Jellies. 2020.
Urethane resin and plaster cast on acrylic. 30″ x 48″x 4″.
From Skinny Dip @ SOIL Artist-Run Gallery
July 2 – August 1, 2020
Skinny Dip is a group exhibition of recent works by artists exploring the idea of skin. Operating within the context of skin as the utmost layer of everything, in this group exhibition each artist examines, stretches, reveals, indulges in, and synthesizes the notion of skin through a variety of mediums – from latex to glaze and clay, surfaces from under and above, materials from raw to petrified, sociocultural perspectives from stereotype to authentic – exploring the surface of a skin-deep space.
Photo Credit: Laura Hart Newlon
New Werxxx @ SOIL Artist-Run Gallery
June 6 – June 29, 2019
I would like to thank you, first of all, for coming to see this new body of work, and so I would like to take this opportunity to share some experiences and circumstances around the making of these new works.
During the months of cold and wet winter days in Seattle, I found myself looking inward, still and contained, watching my hands and brushes making marks guided by habits and repetition. Just actions, slow and casual, trying to forget, trying to subdue whatever that’s happening around me, around the world, trying to work them out more subconsciously through memories and gestures, rather than reasons and clear thoughts. Layer after layer, patterns started to emerge gradually, and eventually I began to recognize and see the world around me again.
From my apartment across from the new Youth Jail, or “Children and Family Justice Center”, so they call it, to my SoDo studio right next to the new Lander street bridge project, every corner I turn to, there is a new construction going on, in sheers of colorful nets and fences wrapped around the drab of cold dark grey, accompanied by earth-shattering, metal-clanking, back-up-beeping orchestra.
And then there is the daily news update of my fellow immigrants being arrested and detained by the very own government I came to love and fear in the last 15 years. Images of families and children, mostly brown, overlaid by chain-link fenced cages, are now carved into my psyche, already-saturated in visions and memories of the construction site fences.
Hence, I give you this series of double images in vertical diptychs. They are separate but together, only to be connected and reconnected by the chain of diamond-shaped negative spaces. I hope this wasn’t the case, but here we are.
Philippe Hyojung Kim (@philippepirrip)
June 6, 2019
P.S. Two years ago on this day, June 6, 2017, I finally received my green card after having been in this country for half of my life.
Gravity Jokes at Hedreen Gallery, Seattle University, Seattle, WA – Sept. 8 – Nov. 17, 2018
curated by Molly Mac.
This recent body of work was produced during my residency at Recology Cleanscapes. What is made visible here is a trace of Seattle’s “progress”, siting the seemingly perpetual cycle of modern manifest destiny, where the real cost of hyper-consumerist excess is infused in the smell of Puget Sound’s summer heat.
“Scavenged and salvaged from mounds of trash and recyclables, materials used in these works range from a muddy spectrum of green, gray and taupe paints leftover from various institutional facilities, and other industrial materials including Styrofoam, plastic sheeting, household refuse and discarded safety gear.
In skin(scapes): 8-15, 8 thin, latex-enamel paint “peels” appear to slink slowly off their rectangular fasteners, apparently failing to live up to their own, seemingly self-imposed, grids. These works flutter delicately as viewers walk by. In these skin(scapes), gravity is a kind of grammar, and this grammar is torn between service to a language of figurative representation and service to languages of modern/postmodern abstraction. The joke could go either way, or perhaps somewhere else entirely.” – Molly Mac
Typology of Absence – 2018 Recology Artist-in-Residence Exhibition, Seattle, WA
They’ve been gutted of their meaning. They exist for the other.
Their bodies were for others, and their skin made to endure.
We don’t know what they once held or held onto. All that remains is a trace of a foregone presence, an empty space filled with the weight of absence.
There, in that in-between space, through the cracks, a potential for selfhood emerges, negotiating remnant objecthood with pronounced subjectivity.
They are artifacts, reminders for renewal, forever archiving dusts of the present.
“…more than a substance, plastic is the very idea of its infinite transformation; as its everyday name indicates, it is ubiquity made visible. And it is this, in fact, which makes it a miraculous substance: a miracle is always a sudden transformation of nature. Plastic remains impregnated throughout with this wonder: it is less a thing than the trace of a movement.”
-Roland Barthes, Mythologies
From our toiletries and sex toys to house paint, plastic has become the most prevalent surface layer of our daily lives, since Barthes’ foretelling essay on plastic published only half a century ago.
Most of the paints commercially produced and available to us today are made of plastic/synthetic polymers in terms of the chemical composition of binders and pigments used. This show, Plastisphere Earthlings, is Part II of my on-going project in the teleological exploration of paint, its plastic nature, and its relation to nature. Expanding from and further developing my earlier work based on queer theory and construction of identities through paint-made objects, this new body of work both metaphorically and physically confronts and juxtaposes the synthetic, plastic, and artificial nature of paint with vegetation. Introduction of this “natural” element momentarily disrupts the sterile, colorful, and shiny surface of plastic paint, providing a peculiar sense of wonder and resilience, much like seeing grass growing between cracks in concrete pavement. It shows us how much and how far we have come to change the environment and how we perceive that change, how quickly and easily we accept it or deny it as nature or being natural.
In illuminating this anomalous yet anticipated emergence of the anthropogenic substrate called the Plastisphere, symbols and codes found in road constructions are used to serve as a metaphor for our ever-so quickly changing environment. In the interest of animating and re-imagining plastic as the non-filial queer progeny of our love and desire for a sleeker, cleaner, and a more perfect world, I would like to present these paint-made, blobby, plastic objects as our fellow earthlings, traversing this artifactual earth that we share with other living things.
In the closing statement of her lecture titled, “the Queer Futurity of Plastic”, Heather Davis suggests: “…to acknowledge that the future will be queer, in terms of being completely disruptive, and also in the sense of learning from queer folks, who have never assumed biological reproduction or even continuance as a kind of possibility of hope, that futurity has to be completely reconfigured means finding a way to live with toxicity, extinction, and without the reassurance of an open horizon of the future. Toxicity provides a re-solution to the question of what to do with ambivalence of queerness only to the extent that does not represent a choice. It is already here; it is not a matter of queer political agency so much as to queer political state of the present.”Plastisphere Earthlings, Dakota Gallery, Bellingham, WA