One day in 1983 Kimsooja and her mother were sewing a traditional Korean bed cover. Suddenly, as she drew the needle through the fabric, an electric shock shot through her: “The energy of my body channelled through the needle, seeming to connect to the energy of the world. From that moment, I understood the power of sewing: the relationship of needle to fabric is like that of my body to the universe.” That incident became an enduring, key experience for Kimsooja. Since then the needle, as a metaphor in her artwork, has evolved in multiple ways, continuously undergoing transformation. Initially the needle served as a tool, replacing the paintbrush: a tool that can penetrate the painterly surface of her tableaux-or any surface. By penetrating the surface with her needle Kimsooja found a way to enter the realms of space and time but also to push through to another, unknown side. And that practice has embedded within it a desire that pervades all her work, namely to bridge the gap between art and life, between aesthetic experience and the process of everyday life.
Kimsooja (born 1957) is a South Korean, multi-disciplinary conceptual artist based in New York, Paris, and Seoul. She represented Korea for the 24th São Paulo Biennale in 1998 and the 55th Venice Biennale Korean Pavilion in 2013, and participated in more than 30 international biennials and triennials. She has had solo exhibitions at MoMA PS1; Cristal Palace, Reina Sofia; the Vancouver Art Gallery; Kunsthalle Wien; Kunsthalle Bern; Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein; Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, UK; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden; Padliglione d'Arte Contemporanea, Milan; Museum of Contemporary Art Lyon; Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf; Musée d’Art Moderne Saint-Étienne; The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens; PAC Milan; Daegu Art Museum; ICC Tokyo; CCA Kitakyushu; the Plateau Samsung Museum, Seoul; Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain; Centre Pompidou Metz, France, and most recently National Museum of Contemporary Art (MMCA), Seoul, Korea.