Dew Kim: I Surrender

Various Small Fires is pleased to present Seoul-based artist Dew Kim’s solo exhibition, I Surrender in its Seoul location. Featuring seven all-new works, the artist addresses issues of sexuality, queerness, BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism, masochism), and religion through a variety of sculptural languages. The presentation is a continuous exploration of Kim’s Christian upbringing and queer identity that draws conceptual parallels between religious practices and Christian iconography with those of BDSM. 
In I Surrender, Dew Kim uses materials such as iron and jesmonite alongside flexible silicone. The physicality of these materials can be read as a sculptural representation of the energy generated at the point of collision between the two axes of religion and queerness. Thus, throughout the exhibition, elements of Gothic architecture like stained glass, wooden frames, iron bars, and window grills are combined with fleshy silicone resembling body parts.
A pair of clasped hands gradually morphs into bodies of two interlaced snakes in In the Garden, portraying both the act of praying and fisting. The snake, a symbol of original sin in the Old Testament, also symbolized creative powers such as reincarnation and immortality in ancient times. The intertwined and twisted figures evoke images of the snake as a taboo Satan-like figure showing the possibility of connection despite their opposition. In this way, In the Garden reveals the coexistence of the antipodal energies between the cursed serpent and the sacredness of the praying hand.
Situated on the exhibition floor, O Come to the Altar is an altar with a blanket of smooth white latex placed above an undulating structure. When movement is detected within the space, the air beneath the latex covering is adsorbed and gradually reveals a clearer outline of the figure underneath: two bodies positioned in a lemniscate and interlaced through their buttocks. Sadomasochism is a combination of sadism, the tendency to derive sexual pleasure from inflicting pain on others, and masochism, the tendency to suffer physical pain and submit to power. In this context, Kim’s installation works illuminate that while the masochist appears to be relinquishing physical power by surrendering, they are in fact gaining strength by enabling 'manipulation' without socially prescribed power.
Dew Kim (b.1985, Seoul, South Korea) received his MA in Sculpture from Royal College of Art, London, UK and BFA in Metalsmithing and Jewelry from Konkuk University, South Korea. Kim’s artistic practice is built on exploring various intersections of art, religion, and identity that lie in the critical point of change and collision. He mainly works with video art and installations that explore issues of sexuality, queerness, feminism, sadomasochism, pop culture, religion, mysticism, and the body as forms of knowledge and research. By using the process of destruction, in masochistic terms –which are both pain and pleasure– he focuses on how chastity training in the BDSM community allows the practitioners to transport and expand sexual desires by renouncing genital arousal and eroticizing the anus. This leads to a deconstruction of the signified body and creates a new language of sexuality that is beyond the phallocentric order. Kim participated in group exhibitions at Documenta 15, Kassel; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; Barbican Centre, Tate Modern Turbine Hall, Camden Arts Centre and Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Ilmin Museum of Art, N/A, and Alternative Space Loop, Seoul; Daegu Art Museum; Buenos Aires Biennial; Palazzo Lucarini Contemporary, Trevi; Para Site, Hong Kong; Grey Projects, Singapore; Haus am Lützowplatz, Berlin and more.