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K.NOTe no.56

Kijong Zin


K.NOTe no.56

Publisher Total Museum Press Pyungchang 32gil 10, Jongno-gu, Seoul Korea (03004) Tel. 82-2-379-7037 total.museum.press@gmail.com Director Jooneui Noh Editor in Chief Nathalie Boseul Shin, Yoon Jeong Koh Coordinator Taeseong Yi Educator

Kijong Zin

Haeun Lee Intern Jisu Hong, Sooeon Jeong Designer Flaneur Sponsor Arts Council Korea Date of  Publication November 2018 © Author and artist The reproduction of the contents of this magazine in whole or in part without written permission if prohibited.

K.NOTe #56 A Report Presented by Kijong Zin Seewon Hyun independent curator

incomprehensible questions through his art and materials from reality. The god, humans, and aliens are all mixed as characters that appear in his work. The background that accommodates them is a dramatic epic. With sharp fragments of reality, Zin creates a total theater. In the exhibition, one can see dioramas that re-enact the climax of the war, a painting of a rosary put on a newspaper on the 9/11 Attacks, hyper-realistic figures of a special forces soldier of the U.S. Army and a Jihadist militant, and cartoon characters of Osama

How to Believe

bin Laden and Barack Obama.

Kijong Zin is a tenacious artist. He is an artisan with an extraordinary handcraft that does not let the news of the world

The rhythm of this total theater varies from slow to fast. It is

disappear in real time. What is news? It does not merely indicate

difficult to say that everything is explanatory or enlightening in

the latest information on the current affairs produced by the mass

Zin’s total theater since the conflict of power among the reality,

media. The news is a skin that packages complex events throughout

the constructed reality, and the world that is difficult to believe in

the world that are impossible to explain. Many would remember

reality is indeed composed of a series of fragile ‘questions.’

Zin’s early works in which the artist set up a broadcasting station

This fragility does not mean that the questions are insufficient or

that revealed a system of information and what was behind the

incomplete. It means that today’s questions on the human

scenes created by the media. In Atheism Report, the artist makes

experience, research, and report of the god are impossible

a statement that he will investigate issues that he has long been

questions that can have no definitive answer. Zin’s exhibition

interested in his own way, unfolding a will to tackle those issues

stands at the opposite of a worldview full of confidence since the

directly. Zin still questions the way how belief operates and what is

point of departure for Zin’s world is doubt although he deals with

behind the surface of the world. At this time, he deals with the

the world of religions and powers that might overwhelm the artist.

world of gods, which is an enormous realm that an individual

Sailing, a video installation on the second floor of the exhibition,

cannot measure at full capacity. If a human is avariable and feeble

shows a fragile relationship between truth and the worldly

existence that endlessly diminishes in front of the god, the god is an

manipulation that Zin has been conveying through his work.

invariable existence that stands at a point that cannot be measured

Being a place where sheets of dark PVC film and a beam projector

by any physical device.

project light and images, Sailing manifests the reality that Zin sees in front of his eyes. And the work is also a composition of


Is life without the god impossible? Is it possible not to believe the

scenes from the human history that have been repeated as if they

god that one has been believing? Where does the god come from

were building a stratum. How many ships have been overturned

for an individual? Zin strengthens his own question by producing

by someone’s mistake in reality? Since Noah’s arc, countless ships

a stage for trace and investigation on these questions. One might

have departed to different places to escape disasters. Sometimes,

ask how far a man that stands in the middle of the deep dark sea can

ships by themselves became the site of accidents that generated

see in the future. Similar to what has the god done to make humans

disasters. A ship floating on the ocean is a place where the god,

with a handful of bones and breath, Zin materializes the answer to

humans, and fools coexist. 5


Hands and Prayers

UFO in a way that a diorama to be presented in a museum for

Kijong Zin is closer to a person that constructs a stage by using

fictional narratives shall be produced. This seems to display the

different tools than a troubadour. With the power of devices and

artist’s resistance toward easy tasks whereby he tries to do things

the technique of making that he learned through his body, Zin

that are difficult to complete. The fact that the artist reverses the

summons different gods directly to the exhibition site. Thus, the

basic nature of diorama as a reenactment of existing events or

gods placed in the exhibition are not singular. For example, the

spaces (locations on the map) into a reenactment of a fictional

gods that shall be placed in chapels or temples in a singular manner

scene also presents his stance through which he consistently

ride a wooden boat together as they are casted with a golden color

questions the way things are being seen. Of course, it is a method

by the artist. In Sailing Towards God,what the viewers see is the

that was present in the artist’s solo exhibition in 2008 under the

five figures standing in line as if they are prisoners taken to the

title ONAIR. At the time, he revealed what was behind the ways

same direction. They have neither faces nor bodies. On the boat are

through which things are presented. The artist’s attitude then

only the clothes that look religious. In this sculptural work, the god

focuses on removing the cover that hides the back of the stage and

is literally absent.

revealing the faces of reality that are closer to those of the fake.

In the current exhibition, the artist takes on a game of narratives

According to the artist, he regularly visited religious facilities such

where he miniaturizes and extends the scale of reality that is

as churches and Buddhist temples between the Summer and Fall of

surrounded by the god, humans, and alien creatures. Zin sets up

2015. Yet, he neither distrusts nor be skeptical to everything about

a fictional narrative to direct a stage, which is entirely open to the

the god. He diligently listens to the story of an individual that

viewers although not all of the narrative is provided. Super God's

believes the god. He cautiously asked questions to Geumsoon Lee,

Square Attackedby UFO, a 360cm-wide diorama on the first floor,

an old woman that he met at Jogyesa Temple. Then he tells the

constructs a miniature stage with small and delicate figures that

story of the old womanwho believes the power of prayer that she

are as tall as one’s finger. In contrast, Rosary and the Prayer in the

has been continuing for over sixty years, without any exaggeration

underground floor installs a magnified hand on the wall, which

or concealment. The resulting work, Rosary and the Prayer,

is praying with a rosary. While the former presents a sci-fi world

presents a hyper-realistic depiction of a hand possessed by a person

filled with very small forms, conspiracy theories and delusion that

that has believed the god throughout her life. Placed at the height

cannot be confirmed, the latter celebrates a very substantial object

of two meters, it is a monument for the countless hands that have

and sanctuary that an 82-year old woman holds on to. The two

prayed for the Buddha. Hung from the hand, the rosary is also

works reflect the theme of the current exhibition, which is religion,

magnified as well.In contrast, the small world that the artist has

and the concrete questions on the ways of believing and the

created using miniatures enters the world of fiction. The diorama

manipulated landscape in reality, both of which are the questions

installed on the first floor of the exhibition, Super God's Square

that Zin has long been investigating.

Attackedby UFO, presents a battle between the priests of a religion

In other words, Zin blows up things he sees through his eyes

that worships a super god (to deny the existence of alien creatures)

into a strangely huge monument that takes the shape of a hand,

and aliens that crashed on a public plaza. This is surely based on

and exquisitely fabricates a plaza attacked by an unconfirmed

the narrative structure set up by the artist through which he 7

represents a climax of storytelling. What would the artist imagine

Watching different events presented by the mass media such as

when he was crafting the small figures of alien creatures with

television, the artist has created visible objects while casting

six toes? For Kijong Zin, the abolishment of conspiracy theory

fundamental doubt on the invisible. What he has been questioning

by rational thinking is not an important issue. Supporting vivid

might be either insubstantial things that only exist within the

witnesses and video recordings of aliens is also not an important

operation of one’s mind or things that exist in reality. One thing in

goal. What is important to Zin is to believe the documentary-like

common is the fact that both of them were produced by humans.

aspects of groundless stories and the explosive potential of fiction as he sees the past and the future of beliefs.

Freedom Fighter, a work composed of two hyper-realistic figures of soldiers, is strange and unfamiliar. The two silicon figures were

In Atheism Report, Zin creates sculptures by simultaneously

created using casted models of people from the USA and the

thinking about the structure of his thoughts and using the power of

Middle East. They sit face to face with each other as they hold their

his hands and shoulders. He draws paintings. Moreover, he operates

weapons and religious symbols in their hands. Placed on a plinth

video equipment through his own technique. We now know that

with their eyes closed, the two figures put a pause in the cruel

dexterity is not just a talent to be appreciated and it is also possible

battle that continues as they believe the same god under different

that one’s methodology can degenerate if he is overwhelmed by

religions. Sitting together under the lighting of the exhibition

the power of creating something by himself. According to Kijong

space, the two make a set-figures that cannot be separated. They

Zin, however, he learns new methods ‘at the site’ after a long

exchange a visual flow that resembles that of CCTV by not looking

period of research. He learns through people who work at different

at the viewers but seeing the other half of the two. Sitting face to

sites, realizing another layer of skin texture in his hyper-realistic

face while closing their eyes to pray for their own gods, the figures

sculpture or discovering another material proper for his work.

are the very human fragments that the artist has extracted from the

Zin is both a director of a stage that he structures and a participant

violent reality.

of the whole process that operates the distributed labor by


himself as much as possible. Instead of employing technicians or

The Time of Croquis

operating a production, which has become a common method in

The artist presents the scene where he initially entered the black

contemporary art production, he pushes almost everything by his

hole of belief and doubt without any exaggeration. Titled U.S.

own labor. With respect to the sole use of his own labor and belief

Embassy Korea, 21.June.2012, the painting in black and white

in such labor, Zin’s artistic practice reminds of the methodology of

at the entrance of the exhibition on the second flooris based on a

painters from the past. In his solo exhibition in 2010, Earth Report,

scene that the artist witnessed. Beside the painting on the wall,

Zin presented Slaves in the Gulf, a mixed media installation

there are a series of rejected visa application documents that Zin

inspired by a painting by a Russian painter Ilya Repin (1844-1930).

applied to the U.S. embassy. What is interesting is that the artist

This connects to what Zin wants to see in his work, which is not

tells the painting as ‘croquis,’ which indicates a quick drawing

about art that constantly becomes anew in front of one’s eyes

created for the sake of remembering what one sees before the

but the art of ‘seeing something once again in a proper manner’

memory evaporates. However, Zin’s paintings are different from

which slows the acceleration of reality down as much as possible.

the usual croquis since they are based on the fact he observed but 9

not created to strengthen his memory. They are created for the

has always been an important and problematic issue. To examine

purpose of waging another inquiry based on the existing memory.

how reality hides the structure of its multiple layers, Zin operates

The following is what the painting depicts as a story. While waiting

a technique that surveys different states of open and closed eyes,

in line at the U.S. embassy for a visa interview before he went to

which is to investigate the front and the back of the stage at the

an artist residency program, Zin witnessed a moment in which a

same time.

pastor was rejected in the visa interview although he had to visit America to see his sick wife. In the painting, a Korean pastor kneels

Humans cannot do anything when they do not invest any effort in

down to the ground as he screams and cries for the god and a man

understanding what is behind the surface of reality. If one can call

behind the interview desk sits with his arms folded as he has the

the sensibility and direction he acquires from the real world as

initiative in deciding who will pass the interview. They are alive in

‘reality,’ it would also be possible to tell Kijong Zin as a captain of a

Zin’s painting. By taking the methodology of croquis, Zin pushes

ship and a traffic controller that craves to investigate the direction

the painting a step further from a way to remember the occasion.

of his own reality.

By surrounding the head of the visa officer with a halo, Zin leads the painting to become a religious painting. Quickly drawn as a painting, the work is quite similar to the stereotype of paintings that are created for the sake of missionary purpose by particular religions. There are active exaggeration and omission in people’s movement. People with authority and those without any power are put in sharp contrast. The god emits light while humans stay in the frame of the light. In Atheism Report, Kijong Zin presents a report to himself in a large scale. His report is of a rarity since it is not in the form of a written text but a series of forms and figures. Theworld that Zin has created is a product of his accumulation of countless images of religions, gods, and wars and conflicts that emerge in both on and off-line. It deals with the power of images. By doing so, it stands against the countless figures in reality. The images of religions and the conflicts related to religions are edited and appropriated in documentary films, commercial films, and new coverages. They are not fictional images to be displayed on monitors as real-time events. They are not the history celebrated in a museum of the history of the twentieth century. The religious conflict is the most disputed and problematic reality now in 2015. For Zin, reality 10


Super Gods Square Attacted by UFO Diorama,Light,Mixed media 360x160x90cm 2015a



Super Gods Square Attacted by UFO Diorama,Light,Mixed media 360x160x90cm 2015a



Rosary and the Prayer Sculpture,Video,wood,Plastic,monitor 100x100x120cm 2015


Rosary Oil on canvas 259x162cm(200M) 2014


‹ON AIR› 2008 solo show. Installation view, Video Installation,Photography, Drawing,Kinetic Sculpture,Object Installation, Size variable, 2007



Slaves in the gulf Diorama,Mixed media,Grass case 236x110x105cm 2010



Slaves in the gulf Diorama,Mixed media,Grass case 236x110x105cm 2010



Freedom Fighter Hyper reallism sculpture, Plastic,silicon,hair,Mixed media 150x90x150cm Life scale 2015



Freedom Fighter Hyper reallism sculpture, Plastic,silicon,hair,Mixed media 150x90x150cm Life scale 2015



4GOT-Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse 6 Channel Video installation, 6 Cameras, Monitor, Mixed Media, Size variable, 2011

Aljazeera, 4Channel Video installation,CCTV Camera,Monitor,Mixed Media, Size variable, 2007



CNN 4Channel Video installation,CCTV Camera,Monitor,Mixed Media Size variable, 2007


Astronaut_Solo C-Print, Frame 133x108cm 2007



Difficulty of imitating nature Documentation, Drawing,Photography,Object Installation,Video, Size variable, 2017



Difficulty of imitating nature Documentation, Drawing,Photography,Object Installation,Video, Size variable, 2017


ing Performance, Djing,Camping, Fly Fishing,Collecting, Mixed Media, Size variable, 2012


Difficulty of imitating nature Documentation, Drawing,Photography,Object Installation,Video, Size variable, 2017



Mise en scene - Life is but a dream Video installation,Camera, Monitor,Linear Dolly,Mixed Media, Size variable,2015



Mise en scene - Life is but a dream Video installation,Camera, Monitor,Linear Dolly,Mixed Media, Size variable,2015



Romance in the Gulf Diorama,Mixed media, Grass case 106x106x91cm 2010



Sailing Towards Operation Mole-Final God Stand, Digital Animation, Wood,ABS Plastic, 17:55, sound, Mixed media 2018 150x80x120cm 2015



Kijong Zin Born 1981 in Chun cheon, Korea Lives and works in Seoul, Korea

Seewon Hyun Hyun See-won writes about images and art. She has planned such exhibitions and projects as Read the Next Sentence (2014, Ilmin Museum of Art, with Park Hae-cheon and Yun Won-hwa) and no mountain high enough (2013). She runs the Audio-Visual Pavilion (audiovisualpavilion.org) and has published such books as Samul Yuram (Sightseeing Objects, 2014).

Kijong Zin

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