Stillness of Sooja Kim

Sooja Kim is a contemporary South Korean artist whose powerful work I discovered at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Her videos, which she produces, directs and acts in are internationally well-known.

From the moment I stepped into the room where her video work titled, “A Needle Woman,” was shown, I was entranced.

On the opposing two walls were large screens- three on each side -that depict her standing completely still in the middle of a busy street with her back to the camera. Each video shows her presence in a particular part of the world such as Cuba, Nepal, Israel, Yemen, Brazil and Chad.

The viewers only see the back of the artist and the reactions of passersby. The latter’s reactions range anywhere from curiosity, bewilderment, mockery, fear, amusement, to simply ignoring her presence. It was interesting to note the varying degree of reactions of people between countries.

I learned that the artist keeps her eyes focused at a central point to maintain balance. She breathes from her stomach so that her shoulders don’t move and wills different parts of her body to relax in order to promote circulation.

The artist alters the dynamics of the world around her with stillness. It is a powerful, meditative act. The artist states, “Every moment of our daily life is [a]…meditation.”

One’s perception is altered radically by the artist’s unique vision. My mind is still exploring the depths of this profound, transforming work of art.

Watch a short video of her work below:

2 Responses


This is wonderful. I feel her resolve and feel inspired to join her. For me, her poetic stance is a beautiful reminder of the power of mindfulness in a world too busy for its own good. I wonder, were there any notable and consistent differences in reaction between people of different countries?


hi, Christopher, good to see you here. thanks for visiting. i agree with your thought about mindfulness in a frenetic world we live in. it’s a jarring contrast and makes us reflect. as i recall, regardless of what country the artist was in, some people simply noticed her, reacted passively or more aggressively (like walking up to her), or some showed indifference. a fascinating study of human behavior.

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