“One and … Poems”, solo exhibition by Yoonhee Kim at Joao Cocteau, Berlin

Exhibition text:

Yoonhee Kim – One and … Poems


Curated by Julia Hartmann

Conceptual art, since its beginnings in the 1960’s, was mainly responsible for the shifting of the visible to the invisible in the arts. Artists like Joseph Kosuth and Lawrence Weiner heralded the disappearance of the object as a necessary component to a system of thought. Material became redundant, art entered the realm of ideas and the medium by which to express those ideas was language.

Installation view

The means of language in conceptual art was therefore not one of communication, it didn’t need to give information; it functioned as the mere material to give form to their ideas and concepts. The essence of language was language itself, it didn’t need to refer to anything exterior. Moreover, the process became the vital part in which the viewer got challenged to participate.

In the exhibition “One and … Poems” the Korean artist Yoonhee Kim is integrating and elaborating these conceptual principles of language based art in the work “I am not a Poet”. She takes the poem with the same title as the starting point to create 73 new interpretations, striping off their ambiguity, their means as a reference to something exterior and the risk of miscommunication. Yoonhee Kim is not creating artworks that are constituted through their connotations with and interpretations of reality; instead she treats language as a mere material to sculpt and draw. In the end, she lets the visitors evaluate themselves what is more real: the arbitrary meaning of words or the arbitrary presentation of words in drawings and objects. She, thus, offers the freedom to individually interpret reality through her objects of meaningless language. In that sense, however, Yoonhee Kim is materializing what Conceptual artists were dismantling.

braille_2 braille1_2 drawings1 drawings2 pianola1 pianola3 sculpture1 sculpture2

Lines, circles, dots, notes, coordinates, angles, graphs, crooks, sounds, connections, heights, depths, letters, and numbers hence constitute the substance of Yoonhee Kim’s pieces. She gives infinite new forms to the written words of “I am not a Poet” that are manifested in the exhibition through 70 ink drawings on paper, a sculpture, braille and a pianola, by encoding each letter of the alphabet into new systems of arbitrary rules. In one particular piece, as an example, Yoonhee Kim transcribes the code into the English Braille language that again constitute words like “sigh” and “gone”. Next to the 70 drawings, other ways of representation are the transformation into musical notes that can be played on a pianola and the materialization of the poem into a paper sculpture.

“I am not a Poet” is an ongoing artpiece that has started in 2011 and will be further developed after her exhibition at João Cocteau. The work is continually subject to change, subtraction, addition, as well as the participation of the visitors. Its process will remain a progress.


Yoonhee Kim (*1985 Busan, South Korea) lives and works in Berlin. She has finished her MA in Fine Art in Utrecht (NL) in 2011, participated in an exchange study program in Jerusalem (IL) and was resident artist at Culturia in Berlin in 2012. Selected group exhibitions: “UNIVERSALSPRACHEN”, Kleine Humboldt Galerie, Berlin, 2013;  “Re pulse”, João Cocteau, Berlin, 2012; “A Possible Scope”, Frappant e.V., Hamburg, 2012; Share the Square, Academiegalerie, Utrecht (NL) 2011; http://www.yoonkim.org

João Cocteau

Kienitzerstrasse 98

12049 Berlin


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