Kim’s creative journey aligns with the extraordinary mutations found in the natural world. Inspired by the organic phenomenon of fasciation – a relatively rare condition characterized by abnormal growth in vascular plants – the artist’s works unveil contorted tissues, hairy areas, and even piercings that form hybrids between man and nature. In a world surrounded by the ever-evolving beauty of nature’s adaptations, Kim’s creations encourage us to reflect on how we perceive and appreciate these distinctive expressions. As Dae uk Kim aims to question, what valuable lessons can we glean from our observations of nature’s mutations as we navigate the intricate mosaic of human diversity?
How did you initially become interested in exploring changing nature in your work?
Dae uk Kim: I draw inspiration from the plethora of naturally occurring mutations found in plant species, such as the four-leaf clover. The clover typically only has three leaves, but when one becomes damaged, its will to live pushes it to create a fourth leaf. The fourth leaf has consequently become a symbol of good luck, happiness, and prosperity in many cultures. However, when people see mutants who differ from the public’s standards, they tend to discriminate and harbor negative judgments. It’s interesting to observe these contrasting perspectives within society.
Could you tell us more about mutated nature and its significance?
Dae uk Kim: Mutation holds significance both in the natural world and in society for several reasons. I find particular intrigue in its crucial role in the evolutionary process, fostering diversity and adaptation. It disrupts the paradoxical notion that we are all inherently unique, yet compelled to conform to a single societal standard. In doing so, it allows us to evolve into a world that is more free and fair for everyone.
Your David (2022), LUKAS.001, and LUKAS.002 pieces represent the natural phenomenon of fasciation, also known as cresting, a relatively rare condition of abnormal growth in vascular plants. Can you elaborate on how these mutations relate to your artistic expression?
Dae uk Kim: Growing up in Korea, I always felt like a mutant, an aberration deviating from the heterosexual norm. After moving to the Netherlands, I gained a fresh perspective on myself as someone who doesn’t quite fit the conventional mold. This change allowed me to feel free to express my true self. As a result, my interest in the concept of mutations grew, and to this day, mutations are a big part of my work.
Through my work, I want to celebrate the beautiful mutations that take place in nature, pushing us to embrace and appreciate our diversities.
Can you share some insights into the materials and techniques you employ to create these sculptures? How do you think these materials help communicate your artistic vision?
Dae uk Kim: I create sculptures using human elements such as skin (silicon) and hair. That is because I believe that looking at anthropomorphic animals, objects, and other subjects makes it easier for the audience to sympathize, become absorbed, and immerse in the artwork.
Through this series Mutated Flower, I wanted to compare the way we look at mutant plants with the way we look at mutations in humans. I encouraged them to put themselves in this situation and think about it. So I anthropomorphized these mutant plants.
We would love to hear your thoughts on a question present in your work description: What can we learn from the way we look at mutated nature?
Dae uk Kim: I want people to look at minorities or individuals who differ in personality, appearance, identity, or race, as valuable beings without any form of discrimination. More than anything, I hope individuals learn to think of themselves as unique and valuable beings, not just a negative minority, and to value their own value as they are, rather than hiding who they are. Like a four-leaf clover.
Interview with Dae uk Kim by Rita Trindade | Images by Pierre Castignola.