Kim Joon: ‘Tattooed’ Bodies Begging For Context
The powerful work by renowned contemporary artist Kim Joon (1966), depicting intriguingly ‘tattooed’ bodies begging for context.
Korean artist Kim Joon fabricates images of fragments of hollow porcelain that resemble nude bodies. Through a painstaking digital process, Kim coats the anthropomorphic forms in bold patterns from ceramic brands such as Villeroy & Boch, Herend, and Royal Copenhagen. What results are deceptively convincing surfaces complete with reflection and shadows.
According to Kim tattoos are not only physical inscriptions on the body but also signifiers of mental impressions left on the consciousness. Alluding to society’s weakness for material objects, Kim’s tattoo imagery reflects our obsessions and deep-seated attachments. The artist’s exploration of tattoos stems from his experiences tattooing his peers while in the Korean military. In his earliest works, Kim grappled with the notion of tattoos as socially taboo in Korean society. He created sculptures that mimicked tattooed portions of flesh. Using water-based markers, he embellished latex-coated sponges, creating anonymous parts divorced from the human form. In recent years, Kim’s work has neatly overturned the negative connotations surrounding tattoos in Korea. In his hands, not only do tattoos reflect social habits and desires but they’re also a vehicle for transforming the body into a highly aestheticized object.