Emily Johnson and Minouk Lim collaborate at the Walker

Production Still from FireCliff 2, Seoul 2011
Production Still from FireCliff 2, Seoul 2011
Courtesy the artist and PKM Gallery | Bartleby Bickle & Meursault, Seoul
The Walker Art Center has acted as a bit of a matchmaker in the pairing of Minouk Lim and Emily Johnson for an interdisciplinary performance, titled "FireCliff 3," that's happening tonight in the museum. 

The one-time event marks the opening of Lim's new exhibition at the museum, "Heat of Shadows," a trio of large-scale video installations about lost memory and the collective unconscious. The show also features a series of wearable sculptures commissioned by the Walker. 

According visual arts curator Clara Kim, over the past few years Lim has been interested in working in the space of theater, and of moving bodies and form. She wanted to collaborate with a choreographer, so the Walker's performing arts department suggested that Emily Johnson might be a good fit.

Production Still from <i>New Town Ghost</i> Courtesy the artist and PKM Gallery .jpg
Courtesy the artist and PKM Gallery | Bartleby Bickle & Meursault, Seoul
Production Still from New Town Ghost, 2005
 "We spent a bunch of time on email talking about the sculptures and video installations that she makes, and ideas of performance and non-performance, creation and non-creation, performativity and ugliness," says Johnson. "Our conversations were all about thoughts that we both have in our work on nature and industry." Through their communication, the two developed a piece based on the idea of landscape and interaction -- both real and imagined.

Because they weren't able to meet in person until very recently, conducting all of their conversations over email and Skype, the process of coming together at the Walker has been about bringing all the elements together and stripping away what isn't necessary.  "Really our time together is very short," Johnson says. "So we're making decisions together quickly, and I think that calls for a certain amount of openness."   

Lim's work draws from an interest in the "present-ness" of the body, and the movement of the body within the landscape. "The body becomes the witness of all these changes. These kinds of very rampant development projects in Seoul, where the memory of places are destroyed as building are torn down as quickly as they're built," Kim says. 
Still from FireCliff 1, Madrid 2010
Still from FireCliff 1, Madrid 2010
Courtesy the artist and PKM Gallery | Bartleby Bickle & Meursault, Seoul

In "FireCliff 3," dancers adorn Lim's wearable sculptures. Made of thermofoam and a combination of natural and synthetic materials -- feather, cuttle fish bone, blades of an electric fan -- the sculptures represent ruins of an industrial society. "She's imagining an apocalyptic landscape where nature as we know it doesn't exist," Kim says. As the performers move, an infrared camera follows them.  

"The movement is a range of very pedestrian and still moments," Johnson says. "Arwen Wilder is one of the performers, and she is improvising a lot based on the idea of being this other landscape. Her impulses that generate movement are really imagistic. She's imagining landscape, and trying to be landscape. They're very expansive in a way, and very detailed."

The movement is also task-oriented in the way the dancers work with the wearable art, which act as protective shields that are both natural and industrial at the same time. "There's a big mix of how we are interacting with the sculptures. The bodies are as much a part of the installation as any other part," Johnson says.  


"FireCliff 3"
Burnet Gallery, the Walker Art Center
7 p.m.
Free, required tickets will become available starting at 6 p.m. at the Bazinet Garden Lobby desk

Johnson is also performing with BodyCartography Project this weekend, which has another gallery performance in the Friedman Gallery May 31 through June 3. Tickets to those performances are free this evening, and free with gallery admission on 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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