Collaborator: Tom Woo, Jonathan Kluth, Alise Careva (Efremidis team), Bryony Dawson (text), Ae Office (production assistance), Ivan Erofeev, Siniz Kim (photograph), Youjin Sone (assistant)
Exhibition title: TYVMXZU!!
Venue: Efremidis, Berlin, Germany
The beauty of language is its ability to possess two opposing tendencies. One is that language is endlessly variable: freely available to manipulation and interpretation. But on the other hand, language is sticky: it brings along a host of clinging associations; memories which attach and won’t let go.
Take a simple word like ‘TESTER’, for example. Printed tiny inside a sticky oval and pasted on the lid of a plastic lipstick tube, it’s a humble and familiar invitation to temporary use – a non-committal experiment in the make-up aisle of your local health and beauty store. But to find this ‘TESTER’ enlarged and emblazoned in slick blue acrylic, encased in the machine-cut precision of a wooden frame – familiarity becomes less certain. Who or what is testing? Who or what is being tested? The door to narrative potential swings wide.
Of course, when we say ‘language’, we mean visual language too. With a background in graphic design, artist/designer Na Kim is well-versed in the slippery, sticky, dual possibilities of visual communication. For her debut exhibition with Efremidis, she borrows the recognisable signs, symbols and formats of mass-produced stickers and elevates them into bright acrylic, marbled gypsum, neat embroidery and delicately hand-painted wood. Through these material translations, Kim invites associative memories and fictional narratives to emerge.
The ‘found fiction’ of an archive is a central aspect of Kim’s process: the shifting or swapping of meaning that occurs when an object is removed from its original context. If details of an object’s former life are lost or forgotten, then fiction arrives to fill the gaps. The red sans-serif of a simple instruction from adhesive tapes takes on an unexpected tone; a ring of laurel on a shade of buttercup prompts a flood of nostalgia. In Na Kim’s works, language is both doing and undoing, attaching and detaching. Meanings stick and become unstuck.