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Brooklyn Rail

By Osman Can Yerebakan

Minouk Lim’s first solo exhibition in New York introduces the South Korean artist’s equally haunting and inquisitive practice with three bodies of work intertwined into a eulogy on loss and the consequential search for the missing. “The Hole-In-Chest Nation” (2014), “Running on Empty” (2014), and “The Possibility of the Half” (2012) occupy separate, neighboring rooms at the gallery’s lengthy space. Evident in each body of work is a futile search in the face of loss, predominantly dictated by the political unrest in Lim’s homeland.

The eerie milieu cast by absence is best epitomized in “Running on Empty,” an installation of seven semi-figurative sculptures (each titled separately), which taken together suggest a film crew. A wide window is cut into the gallery wall facing the hallway to offer a glimpse of dispersedly placed figures from outside, similar to those in production studios. The figures are made up of, among other things, equipment for a film set; however, Lim adeptly orchestrates the utilitarian with the uncanny in the backdrop of burgundy-colored walls, delivering hybrid sculptures of existence and fluidity. Black Hole (2015), for example, is an inoperative standing light reflector coated with thick black feathers, immersing its viewer into a pitch dark void. Lim’s inspiration for the installation was “Finding Dispersed Families,” a television program organized by the Korean Broadcasting System between June and November of 1983, in hopes of reuniting war-torn families of the Korean War. Originally planned as a one-time program to honor the 30th anniversary of ceasefire, the event received more than 100,000 inquiries from people desperate to reconvene with their loved ones, ultimately totaling in 53,536 reunions within its 138-day live streaming. The State effectively turned these private, emotionally powerful reconciliations into televised entertainment...

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