I grew to hate the idea of art whilst studying for my Art and Design GCSE. For me, art of any kind had always been about making a bold statement in image or form, the way one could not do so well with words. For this reason, I always loved Picasso’s Guernica and found an important beauty in Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests.
I could not understand therefore, why I was being subjected to learning the history of art and its classics, when art was moving in such a rapid and fascinating direction. I do not pretend to be an expert on the subject, but my personal taste in ‘art’ or anything that is designed to be visually appealing tends to lean towards the controversial and somewhat shocking, as I personally feel that this is the edge that the visual has over the written in some cases: the written word can be powerful, but no where near as full frontal as the image or film of the same subject.
Upon discovering Sandy Kim’s work last year, I found myself believing in art and ‘the visual’ as a means of expression again.
Kim’s work has an almost uncomfortable honesty about it. Not only does she lay bare her own life for her fans to step into and experience almost first hand through the beautifully personal way she photographs, but she captures so wonderfully those painfully private moments that we have all experienced.
Her photos ask questions. They challenge. They often inspire a moment of recoil (for me at least) before a calm overview of what she has presented can ensue.
After visiting her website and clicking on the folder, with trepidation, labelled XXX, I was repulsed, and I am not ashamed to admit that. The first image that met my eyes was a photograph of Kim and her boyfriend in bed, post sex. Kim had been on her period at the time. I recall closing the screen only to open it back up again a few hours later, in curiosity more than anything else, and, after viewing her piece for the second time, I was almost compelled to shrug my shoulders and say – ‘so what?’
Kim expressed on her blog that it is no secret that some people engage in intercourse while on their periods, the same that it is no secret that women sometimes flash their breasts while drunk at parties.
These pictures are not secrets. The fact that Kim is on her period and can not be bothered to throw on a skirt to hide her underwear is not a secret, so why not take a picture?
This is what I adore about her work. Kim expresses the very best, very worst, most beautiful and most ugly of her world in a way that allows a viewer like me to understand and see her life in full, even though she lives a very different life to mine.
It would be wrong therefore to suggest that Kim’s motive is shock value. Her balance between the visually stunning and the visually repulsive is perfect to suggest reality. Point of view shots of Kim as she throws up into a dirty toilet bowl are juxtaposed against shots of beautifully strange trinket stores, which achieves verisimilitude. This is the way that life unfolds.
Images of the homeless in New York sleeping in a skate park are shown alongside photos of the life of excess lived by some around her, demonstrating the economic and financial unfairness in the world, a reality that surrounds those living in an inner city situation everyday, such as Kim.
As I have already stated, I consider myself to be far from an expert in this area, but it seems to me that Sandy Kim might have something rather important to contribute to the future history of art. Her incredible talent to capture such truth on film is one that greatly inspires me, and for this reason, I highly recommend anyone to visit her website and take a look at some of her more controversial works.
They would have been posted here, but I wouldn’t have wanted to scare anyone away. After all, I am aware that she wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
To check out more of her artwork, visit her website (at your own risk and pleasure) at www.sandykim.com