Over the past decade, California-born, Berlin-based artist Christine Sun Kim has engaged expansively with the ways sound is understood, experienced, visualized, and valued. Upending the notion of the sonic as a solely auditory occurrence, the artist foregrounds sound’s visual, spatial, and political properties across a variety of mediums including drawing, video, performance, and installation. The exhibition explores the visual representation and social significance of sound from the artist’s perspective as part of the Deaf community, in which members do not universally see deafness as a disability, but instead identify as a unique cultural and linguistic minority. Growing up, Kim learned to believe that sound has no place in her life; yet by deconstructing her beliefs through her artistic practice, she claims ownership of sound and shares her understanding of its visual, physical, and political dimensions. Exploring and employing elements of American Sign Language (ASL) — the artist’s first language — alongside other visual communication systems such as musical notation, infographics and memes, the formal vocabulary of Kim’s work is a singular one, engaging with critical precision and deadpan humor the politics of language, listening, and voice.
With this first survey of Christine Sun Kim’s practice, Oh Me Oh My brings together a broad selection of recent works along with two public artworks installed on campus at The Gund and in Oden Hall. Kim’s works challenge widely held hierarchies that tether voice inextricably to sound, disrupting the implicit authority of the spoken over the signed and the aural over other perceptual planes.