Photos: Studio portrait: Mel Taing; Process photo of Soyoung L Kim and Fernadina Chan: courtesy of the artist.

Soyoung L Kim

2023 ACTivate Resident

Soyoung L Kim’s work blends several practices, including painting, sculpture, installation, writing, stop motion animation, and performance. Her background as 교포 Gyopo, as part of the Korean diaspora, allows her to move freely across artistic disciplines to create new works that blend those disciplines and to break those boundaries. Her work is influenced by her own childhood of many moves and displacements and the many stories she has gathered over the three continents she has called home at various times in her life. As a young Korean girl growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, she listened to her parents tell her Korean folktales, as well as stories about the struggles of the Korean people, in their fight for independence from Japanese colonization, in the Korean War, and in the struggle to build a country after the devastation of the Korean War that divided the country. She was shaped by the harsh beauty of the Kenyan landscape and the stories of the British colonization and the struggles of the Kenyan people for independence. All of these experiences and stories inform Kim’s work that aims to transport us to a place of liberation, where we are free from colonization and the burdens of racism, fear and hate.

Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to Nairobi, Kenya, at the age of six and spent her formative years there. She lived in Cape Town, South Africa, for a year before moving to the U.S.A. for college. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her flash fiction,“Red Lines Across the Map” was published in “Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images,” edited by M. Evelina Galang. Her essay, “Water Memory” was published in Fare Forward in March 2022. She has exhibited in galleries in Boston and New York. She has been part of many collaborative projects, including the 2017 Choreography Residency through the Boston Center for the Arts with Continuum Dance Project. Most recently, she received the 2021-2022 Live Arts Boston Grant from The Boston Foundation to create GHOST ROOTS, an interdisciplinary performance art film.


ACTivate Residency Project Description

In 2022, I created a performance art film, “GHOST ROOTS: A New Ganggangsullae” where I reinterpreted a traditional Korean dance and set it in modern day U.S. I will dig deeper into the themes I uncovered in “GHOST ROOTS.” The Cyclorama presents a perfect setting as a circular space to reinterpret the Ganggangsullae. I will create memory landscapes, using archival material, layered with my own artwork. They will be projected onto the walls of the Cyclorama. I plan to create soundscapes from recordings from my travels and from recordings in the Cyclorama, as well as sharing an immigrant’s tale. I envision a performance element to draw the audience into the space. I plan to create a painting in the Cyclorama as well that will be included in the performance. The memory landscapes will be projected in rotation, moving around the circular space, mimicking the circular movement of the Ganggangsullae.