Kimsooja or the art of the minimal gesture

The South Korean artist on capturing humanity in a single knot

Kimsooja addresses existential questions with a staggering economy of means. And the traditional Korean fabric bundle known as bottari has long been the artist’s signature motif. These small parcels embody the essentials carried by those on the move, the few possessions that determine one’s identity, and often survival. But Kimsooja’s bottaris are not merely symbolic. Colorful and intricate, they also function as formal propositions; the artist calls them ‘three-dimensional paintings’. They are sculptural abstractions of sorts, each imbued with a powerful sense of humanity. On the occasion of her exhibition ‘Traversées \ Kimsooja’ in Poitiers, France, the artist recounts how the bottari entered her practice and discusses her art of ‘non-doing’.

Kimsooja is represented by Axel Vervoordt Gallery (Antwerp); Kewenig Galerie (Berlin); Galerie Tschudi (Zuoz); and Galleria Raffaella Cortese (Milan).

Film: Virgile Texier
Cinematography: Jules Theret
Post-production: Bengale TV and Oscar Dewatz
Production: Coline Milliard and Jeanne-Salomé Rochat for Art Basel