Artist - Kaimin
In today’s multitasking, multihyphenated generation, Kaimin, the South Korean-born polymath stands alone. Working as conceptual artist, creative and visual director, designer, film director and actress in her homeland and in the West; she traverses different mediums as effortlessly as she crosses cultural boundaries. Perhaps this is down to her unceasing need to communicate her message, proclaiming, “My work is never derived to deliver a specific message to people but it’s a natural extension of my interests and motivations - it's closer to delivering a message to myself.” For Kaimin, the potency of her work comes in the balance of Yin and Yang, obsessed as she is with creating harmony between two opposites.
Born and bred in South Korea, she studied Fine Art at college before getting her first taste for discordance as the protégé for the late visionary, Nam June Paik, directing a successful documentary of his last multimedia project, ‘From the Fall of Berlin Wall to the DMZ’. Perhaps some of her stubborn refusal to stick to one genre stems from her time with the avant-garde musician, multimedia wizard and video art pioneer who’s credited with creating the term “electronic superhighway”. She says of the experience, “He pretty much opened my eyes to the possibilities of art. I was amazed how he had created this whole genre of ‘video art’ but he was unstoppable with his exploration for more possibilities. What I learned from him is very hard to define because his persona itself had reflected in my vision and motivated my life so deeply that I want to continue his legacy of exploring mind to break and build.” Following on from her mentor she states, “Nam June Paik once said, "Our life is half natural and half technological. Half-and-half is good." With this I agree.” With this modus operandi in mind, this led to her becoming the director of content for the Busan International Film Festival, helping it become one of the most influential film festivals in Asia today, mixing live performances by musicians and artists with her eclectic and bold programming choices.
But it was her move to New York which helped catalyse her uncompromising aesthetic and where her seemingly limitless ability to innovate ideas started getting her noticed. Styling prestigious campaigns and arresting editorials for major magazines like Arena Homme +, Vogue, and W brought Kaimin to work with the premier image makers in the industry: people like Terry Richardson, Ellen Von Unwerth, Terence Koh, Karl Templer, Steven Klein and Inez & Vinoodh. Working with these titans and immersing herself in the city’s avant-garde culture left an indelible impression on Kaimin – fragments that would ultimately become the foundation of her current DNA. Now out on her own, she seeks to repay the inspiration she’s received by becoming an eye for finding the next generation of pioneers.
As for the future, nothing less than a continued search for the new and desire to break down boundaries and hierarchies will do. “As much as I like to communicate with people through my work, I never expect a definite answer. I enjoy the variety of reactions - what matters the most is that they felt something. My hope for my art and future is simple - infinite challenges and experiments that can break and build new vision and creative empire.”
Kaimin’s close ties with the fashion world and her natural state of curiosity has also seen her release a clothing collection titled KAIMIN. A defiantly unconventional, dark and sensual capsule edit of ripped leather and lace. With KAIMIN, she finds her fullest expression through the medium of fabric and the results are defiantly unconventional, sensual, and unlike any other designer you’ve seen. Talking about a search for ‘extreme beauty’, Kaimin explores ideas of fetishism, eroticism and sadomasochism through clothes that dissect and distort the human body, challenging accepted standards of what clothing should do for the body. She says, “Sex is an animalistic and intuitive action. Clothes are made to evoke the essentialism of sexual desire so that wearing KAIMIN naturally becomes the statement of one’s own subconscious reaction to the piece.” Taking elements of bondage and punk, she works in a strict palette and choice of fabrics (lace and leather naturally), letting her love for abstraction come to the fore. What we’re left with is an uncompromisingly dark and thrilling new vision of clothing for some new hybrid of human, one who dresses entirely for her own pleasure.