In this series, ‘Female Artists of BAB 2020‘, Prestige profiles some of the high-profile, international female artists who will have their work displayed at BAB 2020. Here, we check out the work of Ga Ram Kim, a South Korean artist known for her work in multimedia installations.
Working in multiple genres, including media, performance, and installation, Ga Ram Kim is a South Korean artist who has made quite a name for herself already with her #SELSTAR (2016) and Selfie-upload (2018) series. Inspired by the selfie craze, she explores the evolving social identity of people through the “the culture of taking photos”. Her new series, #FANTASY, is a sequel of sorts to #SELSTAR, and will be on display at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre (BACC) during BAB 2020.
Tell us about your BACC installation?
It contains a video component that features a “virtual lover”, while maintaining the focus on audience participation. #FANTASY reveals the contemporary consumption pattern of social media sites such as YouTube, which no longer distinguish virtual reality from “true” lived reality, and often serve as a guide encouraging the active participation of the audience in creating their online content.
What are some of the things you explore regarding the “selfie” generation?
My series investigates the emerging selfie public culture, in which individuals frequently take pictures of themselves and upload them to social media. I consider this to be the 21st century version of the self-portrait. The “selfie” has become an established cultural phenomenon, highly representative of the contemporary period. In tandem with the emergence of social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, people actively choose taking selfies as a modern mode of self-expression and a communication, replacing past methods such as self-portraits and diaries.
How does all this affect one’s own perceived image?
Many contemporary people build an image of their own independent selves within a virtual biographical timeline, that primarily exists within social media. #FANTASY sheds light on the double-sided aspect of such individuals who are arguably being isolated from their lived existence, while becoming increasingly satisfied with concentrating on fulfilling their virtual existence in the age of social media. Given this contemporary dynamic, my work functions as an open forum to encourage public debate on how social media continues to change our lives and how individual desires are currently expressed in online communities.
Has the current pandemic affected your BAB 2020 installation?
In #FANTASY, the point is to use various cosmetics in the exhibition place. It’s a process of the work [for viewers] to put on makeup, take pictures, and post them on social media with various cosmetics. Incidentally, Etude House Thailand sponsored the cosmetics. But since the Covid-19 pandemic, personal hygiene has become very important, so you will probably be able to use the cosmetics only for a limited time during the exhibition period. I am sorry about that. However, #FANTASY has virtual-boyfriend YouTube videos, so even if you are unable to use the makeup tools, he kindly teaches you how to take a better selfie. Access it through the QR code at the exhibition and then it’s possible to watch it anytime, regardless of time or place. There will be four different types of boyfriends waiting!
Does your gender identity play a major role in your art, and/or do you feel it influences the pieces you create?
To be sure, my early works tended to focus on identity as a Korean woman artist, because I started my career first in London. Since moving to Seoul, my interests have focused more on the changes in the society in which I belong. Korea is a dynamic country. Everything changes in a flash and I reenact it in my artwork. Personally, I don’t intentionally highlight gender issues in my work, but so far, the way I’ve been working on my artwork has shifted the curious questions I’ve found in the society to the public forum in exhibitions of the art museum. That’s why the gender issue naturally melts in the media and performance management methods in the work.
Have you ever been to Bangkok before, and are you planning on attending the biennale in person, despite the obstacles posed by Covid-19?
I’m trying to be there. I’ve been to Bangkok three times before, and a few more to Thailand for the winter holiday. I love the warm sunshine. I plan to visit more, because my best friend lives in Bangkok at the moment.
Have you exhibited in Southeast Asia Bangkok before?
BAB 2020 is the first time to show my work in Thailand or Southeast Asia, so I am very pleased to introduce my new project #FANTASY. It’s always exciting to exhibit my artwork in a new place and meet new visitors!
The Bangkok Art Biennale 2020 runs until January 31, 2021. Find out more at bkkartbiennale.com.