Joeun Kim Aatchim

Joeun Kim Aatchim (b. 1989 in South Korea; lives and works in New York) received her BFA from New York University in 2014 and an MFA from Columbia University in 2017. Aatchim has had solo exhibitions at Harper’s in East Hampton, NY; Make Room via Gallery Platform in Los Angeles, CA; and more. Selected group shows include, The Jewish Museum, NY; The Drawing Center, NY.
October 13, 2021
Tell us about your practice.
My mission is to create works that poetically translate transparency of vision and voice in the psychology of womanhood. To me, transparency does not only mean the material choice, but also the intimacy and remembrance of the subjects. To draw from the side that I cannot see, I have to know the issues from all angles, in both figures and objects. Besides drawing/writing, I do various conceptual projects, artist books, site-specific installations such as fresco murals for ghost orphans, live performances with ventriloquists, and a mobile drawing club project, “Café Anxiety Drawing Club Int’l.”
How did you start working with silk? Why that material?
When I decided to dedicate myself to drawing/painting again after a decade of denial, I needed something that would ‘challenge’ me so that I wouldn’t be on ‘autopilot’ or let go of him (drawing) again. And at that time, I stumbled upon ancient portraits on silk, which amazed me how it elevated any quotidian moment into something to be cherished (and how difficult it is to work on), which was exactly what 
I was looking for. Serendipitously, later 
I recalled my grandmother was a Bidan-Jangsoo,
a humble silk merchant,
a widow. She ran a tiny closet size store in a marketplace where she sold silk for traditional Hanbok clothes and hand-sewn beddings to support her children in Chungcheong-do in South Korea. So, I guess, something that I believed was my random choice, in fact was part of my roots this whole time.
Can you elaborate on the use of distorted imagery that creates a double vision effect?
The double vision effect, multiple lines in my drawings, are a trace of my ‘failures’ that I embrace as my aesthetics. Since I am Stereoblind, I use each eye alternatively, so the stance of my still-life subjects shifts within my blinks, and I trace them without canceling the ‘wrong’ one. In the case of figures, I draw people solely from my memories without any photographic references. I will draw them, especially their hands and feet, several times until their posture and subtle emotions make sense to me. In the end, the traces of my multiple lines start to look like double-vision, time-passing, or movement.
What has been inspiring you lately?
I should reverse your question to — “What is NOT inspiring you lately?,” since, with great urgency, every mundane encounter inspires me to draw and write lately. I love Robert Musil’s last volume, “Posthumous Papers of a Living Author,” in which he published all his work-in-progress while he was alive but in a posthumous perspective. I work similarly to tell my untold stories while all my memories are still vivid. Right now, I am on a mission to tell as many stories as possible that “only you & I know,” which will disappear without my testimonial drawing and writing.
What’s next for you?
I hope to finish my new artist’s book “<Total Discomfort-comfort — Not My Blues>” before the end of this year. As for my studio projects, I will continue my material study and installation methods to present my drawings with multiple depths for my upcoming solo exhibitions in Los Angeles and Milan.

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