Soni Kum / 琴仙姫/ 금선희
My artwork is like an act of prayer. For me, art practice is similar to the act of praying. It is a process of wishing the absolute essence in people, yet not by competition, nor by a revolution, but through beauty. At least in the artistic world, there exists a moment when our hopes are shared above the chaotic reality. The most complete sharing is possible through beauty because beauty challenges nothing and nothing challenges beauty. Art is a fluid domain of prayers that can help us transcend our everyday lives. Only prayer and meditation seems to me to bring inner peace of mind, because it dissolves any demarcation between myself and other. This demarcation includes not only international borderlines but also the borderline between living and dying. My work has been dedicated to millions of deaths produced by national violence through the past century. Millions of deaths crossed to the world of dead without proper notice and ritual. Going across the world of living and dying, praying for every soul either in living and dying, I, for the first time in my life, learned what it means to “live.”
When I was a child, I experienced political violence as well as domestic violence. My country of nationality until 2006 was North Korea. When I visited North Korea when I was 17 in 1997, I needed to hear so many people were dying for starvation in the villages from my friend’s aunt. I felt quite devastated for the fact that I was not able to do much to help them.
From these experiences, I was looking for elixir to cure people from the suffering for all these years. And I thought it would be through form of art. From 2002, I began creating and exhibiting my art works around the world.
In 2006, I unexpectedly met young shaman in Philippines during my stay for art project and first time in my life experienced trance-dance. I did not believe any of these mystical phenomena of the world before. Thus it was a sudden unexpected shift in my life. Since then, I have researched spirituality and theology of various traditions. From 2012, I begun pilgrimage trips to India and Bali, and encountered most heavenly trance-dance rituals. First I was only fascinated by the grace and bliss of the rituals but gradually I was lead to make artworks inspired from those rituals.
Through participating into the rituals and doing individual spiritual practices, I was able to free myself from political and social baggage I carried throughout my life and was able to come back to a self as pure soul without any societal labeling. It was first introduction to celebrate to be and to live as pure soul.