– Spring/Summer 2006


Hou Hanru


Travelling and working in the Asia Pacific Region today is always a wonderful experience. There are surprises in all fields, especially in contemporary art. My meeting with Sora Kim, along with some of her colleagues such as Gimhongsok, was one such remarkable experience.

I met Kim at the opening dinner of the first Taipei Biennial in 1998. She didn't speak much and seemed a little shy, but what was unquestionably memorable was her work, which I then saw for the first time. Her piece was an Unlimited Concept Co. Cleaning Dept. project entitled Very Up & Very Down. The installation consisted of a pink truck equipped with a variety of cleaning instruments and, next to it, a file containing a series of documents recording cleaning activities within the city of Taipei. The project was neither visually spectacular nor ideologically sensational. It was simply a series of cleaning actions of different urban spaces, from the city hall to supermarkets, museums to restaurants...

As the catalogue text states:

As an artist, Kim Sora approaches her work with great earnestness, but
this is not the only reason that we find such a fresh vitality in her art.
Another factor is in actions related to the consciousness of the other. We
are reminded that for an artist, the act of making art is an act of
introspection. It is the task of dusting, scrubbing stains and clearing
away garbage. It is the act of cleaning, removing dirt. Any interest in
other things is merely incidental. Moreover, Kim does not make use of
any of the modern devices that liberate us from the hard physical labour
of cleaning. That is

  1. Kim Sunhee, 'KIM Sora', Site of Desire, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, 1998, p.135

  2. See Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000

  3. Sora Kim, in Sun-wong Kim (ed.), Elephant Island: Sora Kim, Seoul: Artsonje Center, 2005

  4. Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude. War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, New York and London: Penguin Press, 2004