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Jiyoon Kim

Jiyoon Kim is an interdisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles and Seoul, South Korea. Kim received her BFA from Seoul National University. She is currently an MFA candidate at the USC Roski School of Art and Design and a Fulbright Visiting Scholar. In her installation, video, and performance-based practice, Kim considers the physical and emotional demands placed upon the body by repetitive labors such as adapting to new languages, cooking, and cleaning. Aided by irony, she exposes the accumulated material and psychological side effects of the constant processes of training and habituation to which the body is subject. With humor, fantasy, and the suggestion of opportunities for resistance, Kim seeks space where compassion could live.




Jiyoon Kim

pain killers, 2020
Sugar, water, lemon
Dimensions variable


Jiyoon Kim’s sugar pills present as poor imitations of pain medications: opaque and oily in appearance, dogged by irregularities, and subject to variations in temperature. Composed of burnt sugar, lemon, and water, Kim’s at-scale replicas of Tylenol, Advil, and Motrin clump together, melt, and pool, leaving sticky residue on surfaces and skin. These pills do not contain drugs or sport the flawless and alluring surfaces of pharmaceuticals, but like placebos, perhaps they signify the false promise of a cure. Kim’s pills may not act upon the body, but they are sweet, like campy reminders of the sugar coating that makes a bitter pill go down easy.

“Physical pain does not simply resist language, but actively destroys it,” wrote Elaine Scarry in her seminal book, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (1985). According to Scarry, incommunicability is a primary characteristic of bodily pain. The bearer of pain is atomized, objectified, and problematic. Her problem – her pain – demands a solution; the bad object must be repaired. Kim’s practice takes up the body, and in particular the female-identifying body, and its pain as a contested site. If pain is inexpressible in language, another mode of making meaning must account for its mess, must bring flawed bodies back into an order that depends less upon embodied realities than upon a symbolic system of management. Take a pill and solve a problem; take a pill and get back to language; take a pill and go away.

– Kate Rouhandeh


Kate Rouhandeh is a writer and curator from New York living in Los Angeles. She is currently an MA candidate in Curatorial Practices at the University of Southern California and holds a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago. 

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