BA,Yonsei University, Korea ; MFA, Massachusetts Collge of Art and Design
Korean-born Soon-Mi Yoo works with various media and genres, including photography, film, installation and text to explore marginalized histories.
Born in South Korea, Soon-Mi Yoo studied German Literature at Yonsei University before earning an MFA in Photography at the Massachusetts College of Arts where she is currently a member of the Film/Video faculty. Yoo’s films embrace and expand avant-garde and essayistic modes of non-fiction cinema, reopening forgotten, often suppressed, chapters of modern history in order to explore the still unresolved conflicts and collective memories that continue to haunt and define the Korean Peninsula.
In short works such as DANGEROUS SUPPLEMENT and SSITKIM: TALKING TO THE DEAD Yoo defines a lyrical mode of essay film that uses poetic forms to mine the deeper archaeological and emotional levels that standard histories are unable to engage. Yoo’s first feature film SONGS FROM THE NORTH looks differently at the enigma of North Korea, a country typically seen only through the distorted lens of jingoistic propaganda and derisive satire Interweaving footage from her three visits to North Korea, together with songs, spectacle, popular cinema and archival footage, SONGS FROM THE NORTH tries to understand, on their own terms, the psychology and popular imaginary of the North Korean people and the political ideology of absolute love which continues to drive the nation towards its uncertain future.
SONGS FROM THE NORTH reveals that to look closely and objectively at North Korea, a country that challenges our most fundamental assumptions about the human condition, is ultimately to question the meaning of freedom, love and patriotism.
Yoo’s films have screened at major international film festivals, including Locarno, DocLisboa, the Viennale, Rotterdam, Oberhausen as well as the the Harvard Film Archive, the Centre Pompidou and Museum of Modern Art. SONGS FROM THE NORTH won the prestigious Golden Leopard for Best First Feature at the 2014 Locarno Film Festival, and the prize for Best First Feature at DocLisboa 2014.
Songs from the North
BA, Columbia College, Columbia University; MFA, Rensselar Polytechnic Institute; MA, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
I’m a New York-based video and installation artist best known for pristine, coolly minimalist work. I’m influenced by the freedom of subject matter and portrayal of time in experimental film and video, the connections between everyday movement and modern dance, the transient nature of light art environments and the seductive power of highly aestheticized images. A colleague recently said that every piece I’ve made could be titled: ALONE, WE ARE TOGETHER. (This video, currently in post-production, explores how our dependency on machines impacts the relationships we have with one another in a complex maze of ways that are beautiful, strange, isolating and sad.) Most of my work deals with this intersection of aloneness and togetherness within the chaos of modern life. The intent of all my work is to reveal things that we see yet overlook or disregard.
In my earlier, more formal light installation work, damaged fluorescent signs minus their advertisements allow me to invoke deserted stretches of air space (NOT YET TITLED) and rotating LED light tubes help me delineate patterns of light in motion (Untitled (starsticks)). In contrast, my videos collect and refine moments from the real world. Earlier work documents nocturnes of lone streetlights and broken billboards in the wastelands of cities damaged by weather and capitalism. More recent videos explore cultural misogyny and racism.
My latest work uses re-creation and horror as modes of inquiry. I use my current strengths-a nuanced use of absurdity and play and the capacity to create streamlined imagery to tackle news stories about violence. This body of work consists of multifaceted narratives that are resonant accounts of humans and violence, highlighting power struggles surrounding race, class, gender and sexuality. With this work I intent to expand narrative possibilities for horror while stimulating renewed interest in the performance of the everyday.