press release

Christine Sun Kim: Off the Charts
Colored People Time
February 7–April 12, 2020

In works spanning performance, video, drawing, and installation, Christine Sun Kim (b. 1980, United States; lives and works in Berlin) uncovers the politics of voice, listening, and language. She considers the sonic as a multi-sensory phenomenon, which is comprised of properties that are not only auditory, but also spatial, visual, and socially determined. Kim, whose first language is American Sign Language (ASL), deconstructs conventional perceptions that equate sound solely with hearing, and instead conceives of the sonic as both a series of conceptual relationships and a form of social currency.

The exhibition presents a recent seven-channel audio installation alongside two distinct groups of the artist’s charcoal and oil pastel drawings. For One Week of Lullabies for Roux (2018), Kim invited a group of friends to compose alternative lullabies for her hearing daughter. Each track omits speech and lyrics and instead emphasizes low frequencies. They follow a score the artist devised in accordance with what has she termed a “sound diet” for her child, an approach designed to place equal weight on signed and spoken communication.

Kim’s text-based works on paper, emphatically expressive and sometimes conveying a deadpan sense of humor, are a key mode through which she troubles the implicit authority of spoken over signed language. Often funny, they pivot on the absurdity of capturing complex choices and their cultural, social, and historical underpinnings in diagrammatic shorthand. Here, and throughout her work, Kim parses the materiality of sound, while making visible its impacts on the social realities of both hearing and non-hearing individuals.

Christine Sun Kim: Off the Charts is organized by Henriette Huldisch, Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (former Director of Exhibitions & Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center).