Won Ju Lim


Won Ju Lim, photo: William Short

WON JU LIM: Casting Shadows

Won Ju Lim's installations are a confluence of sculpture, architecture, and cinema. It is an analogical relationship: her architectural structures are not just physical objects but are artifacts in which the object and the idea of the object coincide as one layer of experience, an exploration of meaning through temporal and spatial relationships. In addition, there is the phenomenological—that is, the experience of the subject in architecture, the experience of materiality, of light, of color, and of the psychological and physical relationship to space. In her past work Lim has used projected light and video on architectural structures made of colored Plexiglas, creating a liminal installation space that is completed when the viewer enters this immersive environment. The one-to-one relationship between the viewer, the sculpture, and the shadows that are created on the ceiling, walls, and floors is for her a theatrical experience: as the viewer moves, the surroundings shift into transitional states of spatial transformation and exchange between what is observed and what is real. Cinema serves as a metaphor for the hallucinatory nature of perception.(1)

Having studied contemporary architecture, Lim is conceptually attuned to the field's theoretical underpinnings. The writings of the architect Peter Eisenman are an influence, in particular his idea of "blurring," or the notion of the in-between, the interstitial space "that is not a visual effect but rather deals with affect, a strategy for exploring a mind-body relationship in architecture that displaces the conventional or expected experience of space."(2) Her series Memory Palace (2004) is based on Matteo Ricci’s mnemonic system, in which memory—whether real, imaginary, or a combination of both—is retained through association with a mental architectural space. Shadows are contained within light boxes, "clear and fixed, but there are moments when the spaces seem fluid and blur into each other."(3) The multimedia work Raycraft Is Dead (2014) reflects her interest in "exposing and examining the repressed, the disturbing spaces in the house that are hidden and manifest as a space of fantasy."(4)

Lim's exploration of shadows and empty or "dead" interstitial spaces continues in her light boxes on view in the C.O.L.A. exhibition, Casting #1 and Casting #2 (both 2016). They represent "still frames" or moments of what will eventually be a film, a topological study of a scripted space of the imaginary based on the prose of Marcel Proust.(5) The genesis of this idea was her reading of Monsieur Proust, the autobiography of Céleste Alabaret, Proust's housekeeper, secretary, and nurse during his last years of self-imposed confinement to his bed. Lim's process involves extensive research into her subject. In addition to reading Proust, she also read essays on his writings by Samuel Beckett, Gilles Deleuze, and Julia Kristeva and studied films by Percy Adlon, Chantal Akerman, and Raúl Ruiz. She focused on the Proustian conceit that there is no true past but only imperfect memories. Filtering Proust through the interpretations of others, Lim frames embedded memories and multiple realities in a work that, like the novelist's writings, creates a cinematic impression of its maker.

—Carole Ann Klonarides

1. Jan Tumlir, "Won Ju Lim: The Newness of Cities," in Won Ju Lim: Untitled Silence (Hanover, NH: Jaffe-Friede Gallery, Dartmouth College, 2011), 27.
2. From a description of Blurred Zones: Investigations of the Interstitial; Eisenman Architects, 1988–1998 (New York: Monacelli, 2003).
3. Lim, in an interview with Astrid Mania, in Won Ju Lim (Salamanca, Spain: Fundación Salamanca Ciudad de Cultura, 2005), 94.
4. Lim, in an interview with Tricia Y. Paik, in Currents 108: Won Ju Lim, exh. brochure (St. Louis: Saint Louis Art Museum, 2014), unpaged.
5. In a conversation with Madeleine Aktypi, the social historian Norman Klein describes scripted spaces as carefully designed and controlled spaces that reconcile cultural meaning with the thrill of the unknown "to describe the visual in a novel, or enter the interior life of a character on film to chart one's way through the invisible."

Won Ju Lim
Born 1968, Gwangju, South Korea 
Lives and works in Los Angeles

MFA, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, 1998
BS, Woodbury University, Burbank, CA, 1992

Selected Exhibitions
2014–15 Won Ju Lim: Raycraft Is Dead, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, and Saint Louis Art Museum
2010 Baroque Pet Shop, West Gallery, Patrick Painter Inc., Santa Monica, CA (solo)
2008 24 Seconds of Silence, Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (solo)
2007 Found Out, International Incheon Women Artists’ Biennale, South Korea, curated by John Welchman (group)
2005 Won Ju Lim, DA2 Domus Artium, Salamanca, Spain
2004 Won Ju Lim, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin

Selected Bibliography
Ambrozy, Lee. "Won Ju Lim." Artforum 47 (February 2009): 212.
Holzwarth, Hans Werner, ed. 100 Contemporary Artists. Cologne: Taschen, 2009.
Morrill, Rebecca, ed. Akademie X: Lessons in Art and Life. London: Phaidon, 2015.
Tumlir, Jan. "Won Ju Lim: The Newness of Cities." In Won Ju Lim: Untitled Silence. Hanover, NH: Jaffe-Friede Gallery, Dartmouth College, 2011.
Wagley, Catherine. "Won Ju Lim." Sculpture 30 (May 2011): 63.