Christine Sun Kim uses the medium of sound in various forms including performance and drawing to investigate its relation to spoken language and the aural environment. Kim’s work makes audible noise perceivable, giving it visual, physical, and conceptual properties.
Kim’s site-responsive project, Time Owes Me Rest Again (2022), is a mural on the monumental 40 x 100-foot wall encasing the 9,000-square foot Panorama of the City of New York. A dynamically choreographed group of drawings each representing the five words in the title (“Time,” “Owes,” “Me,” “Rest,” “Again”) in American Sign Language (ASL). Playfully reenacting the physical and psychological articulation of ASL, the words were chosen for their hand motion involving the signing hand coming in contact with the signer’s body—“me,” for example, is signed by an index finger poking on the chest once. These notations echo and bounce off each other to render a lethargic feeling drawn from the societal and systemic inequity that persists between Deaf communities and the hearing communities. Time Owes Me Rest Again also reflects upon the unease and fatigue induced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. The Queens Museum’s immediate neighborhoods of Corona and Elmhurst, with a concentration of immigrant populations from Latin America and Asia, were among the hardest hit in 2020, enduring amplified malignancies of capitalism. The work incorporates an original digital animation that renders the incremental development of its composition and the gestural nature of each sign.
Christine Sun Kim’s work represents the complex realities of Deaf culture. Defining sound as a multi-sensory phenomenon whose properties are auditory, visual, and spatial, as well as socially determined, much of Kim’s work is invested in scrutinizing cultures that tend to ascribe lesser relevance to signed communication, challenging the implicit authority of spoken over signed language.
This project is organized by Hitomi Iwasaki, Director of Exhibitions and Programs.
Digital animation: Jan Joost Verhoef
Wall drawing production: Yezica Tutic
Christine Sun Kim was born in California, and has an MFA in Sound and Music from Bard College as well as an earlier MFA from the School of Visual Arts. She has exhibited and performed globally and participated in international exhibitions including Another Day Rising into Being, Deutsche Oper, Berlin (2020); Christine Sun Kim: Off the Charts, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2020); Lautplan, Art Institute of Chicago (2018); Busy Days, De Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam (2017); and Almost a Score and Sound as a Dollar, Arnolfini, Bristol, UK (2015). She is a TED Senior Fellow and has been awarded TED and MIT Media Lab Fellowships. Most recently she was honored with a Disability Future Fellowship through the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In 2020, she made history as the first ever Deaf Asian American to sign the national anthem at the Superbowl in a performance the TIME magazine called “required viewing.” She currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany.