Kimsooja: To Breathe at YSP
As this summer’s Yorkshire Sculpture International draws to a close, our own Juliette Loughran reflects on Kimsooja’s breath-taking contribution.
Transforming the 18th-century deconsecrated chapel at Yorkshire Sculpture Park with To Breathe, South Korean artist Kimsooja follows in the artistic footsteps of Bill Viola, Chiharu Shiota and Ai Weiwei, whilst creating one of our favourite exhibitions of all time. This enthralling installation uses light and mirrors to explore the meditative qualities of space.
For the last 25 years, the artist has used the form and idea of 'bottari' – the South Korean word for a bundle wrapped in fabric, which Kimsooja identifies as "a self-contained world – but one which, like a vessel, can contain everything materially and conceptually". Traditionally used for moving possessions from place to place, the bottari references the displacement of people. Kimsooja has extended the idea to incorporate larger spaces and even architecture, like here in the chapel, meaning that whole buildings could also be wrapped to alter, contain and re-shape what was within.
Kimsooja, To Breathe, 2019. Courtesy the artist and YSP. Photos: Mark Reeves
The entire space has been transformed thanks to a mirrored floor that makes solid surfaces and confined structures appear fluid and expansive. By placing diffraction film on all the windows, the light that enters forms a myriad of rainbow spectrums across the space, which are reflected infinitely via the mirrored floor.
Embracing its natural environment, the installation also changes according to the light quality and intensity, making every experience different and unique. The experience is also completed by a soundtrack of the artist breathing to create an intimate and meditative encounter.
Juliette Loughran, founder of Loughran Gallery, said: “The YSP attracts some amazing talent and Kimsooja truly transforms its historic and beautiful chapel with this latest exhibition. Constantly evolving as the light changes throughout the day, this iridescent installation has a dream-like quality that really makes you slow down, reflect and simply enjoy. Grab a spot on one of the second-floor pews to take in the architecture and meditative space and you won’t be disappointed.”