If Different Day is a Same Day… is a cumulative installation of paintings, film, images and objects by Korean-American artist Sunny Kim. The exhibition was conceived through our long-distance conversations -- she was in New York, going through a difficult lockdown, while I was in Seoul. We have collaborated on two reenactment performances, Still Life (2012) and Landscape (2014). If Different Day is a Same Day … became a rumination upon ways to make a seemingly-impossible exhibition real, leading us into an unpredictable journey of temporality. In a time when the artist felt continuing her work an unfeasible task, I wanted to convey a space that felt as if we were traversing the time she spent on her painting instead of displaying her paintings through an exhibition. If Different Day is a Same Day … exposes these points of inconsistency where we contend with a present that unveils a world made unfamiliar.
Revisiting the artist’s memory and in dialogue with both the distant and immediate past, If Different Day is a Same Day… opens a sense of impermanence in Kim’s painting. Faced with a world made unfamiliar and isolating, Kim, rather than anticipating what follows, instead chooses to reflect upon past emotions and hopes. The girls in uniform from Playing Stones (2020) who once reenacted her paintings, the dismantled plywood from the structure of Landscape (2017) opening up the gallery space, the mountain separating the sky and the land in Point of View (2015), the distant Big Flower Tree (2019) and closely seen Small Flower Tree (2020) - these images invite us to a world where nothing is new, yet nothing is old.
‘Memory’ seems a tenable material rooted in reality when one is in isolation. Kim begins If Different Day is a Same Day… with a fixed point in time and uses it to invoke other instances of her recollection, accompanied by her archive of images, writings, and other found materials. The exhibition is also supported by Kim’s own reading of A Sixfoot Sickbed by Masaoka Shiki (1867 - 1902), with which the artist has assimilated the feelings of confinement, isolation, consolement and hope with her own situation under lockdown.
Sunny Kim imbues a sense of grief and hope, reanimating and altering moments that appear permanent in an attempt at eroding them. It is a wall that appears and interrupts the depths of her paintings; the reflection of a mirror that can’t be met with the real, and like the ‘dead center’ that continuously emerges, the image’s substance that can’t be caught with the ‘seeing’ of the eyes, the ‘awakening’ of the body that we must contend with, and the ‘vitality’ of our mind. If Different Day is a Same Day… is an exhibition where Kim reenacts the ‘liveness’ of things past throughout the ‘tableau-space’ by rearranging her paintings and images in different gestures: juxtaposing, adjoining, overlapping, laying down, overlaying a voice that echoes in the room. Kim’s attempt to grasp perpetually ceasing moments become real in space, but ultimately this reality is an image that can’t be grasped.
By: Enna Bae