Award Citation

Kimsooja gained international presence as an artist for her work based on Asian culture during the 1990s, when modern art broadened its Western-centric horizons to include more diverse cultures. She has garnered much attention, such as for her vivid installations featuring traditional Korean bottari wrapping cloth, and her mobile performance/social sculpture, which involved a truck loaded with bottari. Since the late 2000s, she has developed installation works that use the characteristics of light to fill whole spaces with spectrums of light. The way that her work steers viewers to her grand philosophy of life and universal truth has won high praise across cultures.

Kimsooja was born in Daegu, Republic of Korea, in 1957. She studied at Hongik University in Seoul and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in the 1980s. She was an artist-in-residence at the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York from 1992 to 1993, where she used bottari in her art work for the first time. A big and colorful cloth used to wrap up miscellaneous goods in everyday use, bottari can be seen as a microcosm in which the act of sewing and wrapping symbolizes women's labor and life itself. At the same time, it also suggests an aspect of globalization, where people are forced to move and migrate for political and economic reasons.

Between 1999 and 2001, she created one of her most famous works: A Needle Woman. In this video piece, Kimsooja was filmed from behind while standing motionless in the middle of busy streets in Tokyo, New York, London, Mexico City, Cairo, Delhi, Shanghai and Lagos. By bringing the alien element of stillness into the chaos of urban environments, her tranquil body appears to exist in a different flow of time. This masterpiece delves into the senses of locality and spatiality that can anchor us in the era of globalization.

In 2006, she introduced another piece To Breathe - A Mirror Woman use natural light for the first time at the Palacio de Cristal in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Renia Sofia, Madrid. In this work, light was used as a non-physical medium to envelop the space in light to represent the structure of the universe according to the Korean Obangsaek theory of five colors and the theory of the five elements.

Meanwhile, she participated in the Venice Biennale several times as well as in solo exhibitions at world-famous art galleries and in international exhibitions. In Japan, she began to participate in group exhibitions in the late 1980s. Later in 1999, she became an artist-in-residence at the Center for Contemporary Art in Kitakyushu. She has also exhibited her work at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Yokohama Triennale and Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. Recently in 2022, her stained glass installation was put on permanent display in Cathédrale Saint-Étienne in Metz, France, and exhibited To Breathe - Constellation at the Bourse de Commerce, Paris, in 2024, where she covered the whole floor with mirrors.

In the current era, where separation and conflict are becoming more widespread, Kimsooja's magnificent art makes us aware once more of the workings of all things in nature, and the harmony and balance of the world. For her ceaseless efforts and creativity, she is truly worthy of the Arts and Culture Prize.

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