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85. Mirena Kim:  I’m Worried About Fitting In

Proxy Gallery at The Floating Gallery: 5760 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90019.

August 5 to September 30, 2023

Opening reception August 5, 2023, 6-8 pm at The Floating Gallery: 5760 W. Pico Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90019       

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Mirena Kim’s fired ceramic sculpture fits snugly in the Proxy Gallery. The white cube is not a miniature gallery but a space on its own terms: The object fills it almost completely. Kim sought to deal with the space by addressing every single inch; thus there are areas of the sculpture blocked from viewing. Spaces, cells, rooms, voids. You are aware that some areas are blocked from view, because of

the walls. Walls are here understood as both the “walls” of the gallery and the “walls” of the represented “building.”

 

There are also psychological dimensions--a quest for identity, sculpting the body. It is reasonable to understand that the usual ways of addressing the body have been taken away. The title itself performs a two-fold function: it anthropomorphizes the sculpture that is now talking in the first person, worrying that it may not fit into its container, and it also speaks of Kim’s complex relationship to identity, racial and gender. Kim’s solution is to turn to abstraction, which, paradoxically, appears to have the form of a building. To the question of whether this is an abstraction or a representation, the work answers “both”: It looks like a building whose interior is inaccessible, in the same way that the interior of the body or of the unconscious is inaccessible. That frontality, that inaccessibility are the refusals—not denials—through which the artist seeks to define her voice.

The color yellow figures strongly in this installation. According to Kim, it is the color historically and problematically attributed to Asian skin. This is the point where abstraction takes the form of representation--a sculpture that very much looks like a small yellow building. The house is asphyxiating, choking. It's a container tightly enclosed inside another container. Right angles increase the architectural reference. The “house” has two feet, and that makes it into a being. The feet are both a stand and a stance. The gallery is both a container and a constraint through which Kim is able to speak. She comes at making sculpture from the position of an impasse; that is, she creates her own conditions of impossibility in order to deal with self-expression. 

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