Sung Hwan Kim’s Temper Clay

Sung Hwan Kim. Still from Temper Clay. 2012. Video (black and white and color, sound), 23:41 min. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Fund for the Twenty-First Century. © 2021 Sung Hwan Kim
  • MoMA, Floor 4, Studio The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio

...Old fond eyes, Beweep this cause again,
I’ll pluck ye out
And cast you, with the waters that you loose
to temper clay...
–William Shakespeare, King Lear

Sung Hwan Kim describes his video Temper Clay (2012) as “a re-sketching of King Lear.” Borrowing the title from a line in one of Lear’s tirades, Kim was inspired by “a play written around a father and daughters exchanging real estate properties for love, loyalty, and class reaffirmation.” In this video, the artist combines images of his parents’ home in the Hyundai apartment complex in Seoul and his family’s country home, analyzing the dynamics of the contemporary Korean family from the perspective of different generations and social classes.

Kim’s film reflects on matriarchy, domesticity, and Korean society in poetic form: the footage is interspersed with surreal and dreamlike scenes of choreographed actions, strange gestures, and repetitive daily activities. Voiceover and written text from various sources, such as an interview with the artist’s childhood nanny, weave throughout the film. The soundtrack was developed with Kim’s frequent collaborator, the musician David Michael DiGregorio, known as dogr.

This exhibition in the Kravis Studio expands the single-channel video through an installation of drawings and objects created specifically for MoMA. The environment connects the architecture from the video’s fictional world with our experience in the gallery, and illustrates the artist’s distinctive way of intertwining video, music, storytelling, and sculpture within the exhibition space.

  • This exhibition is part of The Hyundai Card Performance Series.
  • Temper Clay is written by Sung Hwan Kim
    Facts taken from various sources by Jong-mok Sohn

    Camera, editing, and sound design by Sung Hwan Kim
    Second camera by David Michael DiGregorio

    Music composed and performed by David Michael DiGregorio, aka dogr

    “Gute Nacht” from Winterreise
    (composed by F. Schubert/text: W. Müller)
    voice 1 and piano: Yoon Jin Kim
    voice 2 and treatments: dogr

    “how are you”

    “what does this mean”

    “temper clay”
    (text: W. Shakespeare)

    Roles:
    Misoon Huh
    Daseul Song
    Namsik Ji
    Hyoduck Hwang
    Boram Moon
    Hwa Sook Jung
    Jinju Lee
    Jae Soon Jang
    Jimu Park
    David Michael DiGregorio

    Commissioned for The Tanks at Tate Modern, 2012

    Organized by Ana Janevski, Curator, and Martha Joseph, Assistant Curator, Department of Media and Performance.

    The exhibition is presented as part of The Hyundai Card Performance Series.

    Major support is provided by the Jill and Peter Kraus Endowed Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions.

    Generous funding is provided by the Lonti Ebers Endowment for Performance and the Sarah Arison Fund for Performance.

    Artist

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