Kimsooja installs her works at landmarks throughout the City of Poitiers
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Kimsooja installs her works at landmarks throughout the City of Poitiers
Kimsooja, To Breathe © Yann Gachet - Ville de Poitiers.

POITIERS.- For this first edition of Traversées, the City of Poitiers – at the suggestion of Emma Lavigne and Emmanuelle de Montgazon – has invited South Korean artist Kimsooja to install her works at landmarks throughout the city. Kimsooja’s work will be complemented by other artists, of all backgrounds and ages, who have inspired her in the context of Traversées and with whom she shares a strong affinity. The project comprises a journey through the city, a “traversée”, creating paths that intersect, join together and split apart.

A parallel programme has also been developed alongside cultural actors and stakeholders from the local area. The programme features showcase events, meetings and activities held in public spaces and unexpected locations.

This inaugural edition serves as a statement of intent for what will become a regular event, inextricably tied in with the destiny of the Palais des ducs d’Acquitaine and its surrounding area, and aimed at gradually revealing the city and its riches.

From the Théâtre Auditorium de Poitiers to the Sainte-Croix museum, with stop-offs at the Sainte-Radegonde church, the Place du Maréchal Leclerc, the Saint-Louis chapel and Le Confort Moderne, the Traversées / Kimsooja project physically traverses the city in a series of kaleidoscopic paths revealing its aesthetical, geographical, cultural and political, as well as psychological, anthropolitical and meditational dimension. Sitting at the centre of this non-linear itinerary, the Palais des ducs d’Aquitaine stands as an inspirational beacon at the project’s heart. In this city of disorientating rocky ramparts, the artists are following different directions, forging new paths and changing perspectives. The works serve as an invitation to travel through the heart of the city, thereby echoing Kimsooja’s reality as a nomad.

Kimsooja was born in 1957 in Daegu, South Korea. She lives and works in New York, USA.

Her frequent relocations as a child, in pursuit of her father’s military postings, and her own “voluntary exile” in New York have led Kimsooja to question the notion of travel and to develop a humanist awareness of otherness, reflected in the interactive quality of her art. She envisages meetings on journeys and pilgrimages, where each person offers a piece of their own self, as moments of true sharing, as cultural as they are spiritual. Kimsooja thereby becomes “A Needle Woman” – to borrow the title of one of her performances – and, through her works and the issues that drive her, she draws links between social contexts in very different geographic locations. The issue of hospitality and, to an even more profound extent, the family bond that has long fuelled her artistic work forever resonate as the backdrop to her journeys, her bottaris – the Korean term for the bundles carried by nomads – and her encounters.

Kimsooja studied painting at the Hongik University in Seoul before taking a lithography workshop at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. She has been invited to over 30 contemporary art biennials and triennials all over the world. She represented South Korea at the 24th Sao Paulo Art Biennial in 1998 and the 55th Venice Biennial in 2013.

Her work has been the subject of personal exhibitions at MoMA PS1, the Palais de Cristal de Madrid / Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Kunsthalle Wien, the Kunsthalle Bern, the Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, the Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Etienne, the Guggenheim Bilbao and the Centre Pompidou-Metz.

«Contemplating the history, cityscape, and beautiful historical monuments, and also realizing the relationship of the city as a native home for Michel Foucault who’s been influenced much in contemporary art discourse has been an amazing journey for me to learn, to engage to this complex passage way of religion, culture, politics, aesthetics, and history of France and near by Europe. This might be the most inspiring, challenging, and ambitious projects I’ve done so far, mainly focusing on site-specificity responding to the notion of traversées, of which I’ve been devoted for so many years. Since my Bottari project, Cities on the Move, and even from 80’s sewn practices which were also a journey to the space and time were my responses to my own reality and culture that has expanded and been interacting with universal value and realities. This exhibition has a strong link to the history of my practice as a nomadic artist since 90’s. It’s also rooted in my childhood as a member of a family that frequently moved home in the korean peninsular, often exposed to border lines and danger in the north side of the country while living near the demilitarized zone. It was equally inspiring and wonderful to be able to invite other artist colleagues, whose works somehow resonate with my practice and reveal broader context, truth, and aesthetics of the notion of Traversées.» --Kimsooja

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