Miru Kim: Nude Art in Extraordinary Places [Gallery]

NEW YORK | Friday, July 1st, 2011 5:58pm EDT

For the majority of people public nudity is something extraordinary and really shameful. Miru Kim made public nudity her profession.

  • Michigan Theater, Detroit, MI, USA: The Michigan Theater must have been the most glorious movie palace when it was built in 1926. Its seating capacity of 4,050 was not enough to accommodate the crowd on the opening night. The lobby could hold as many as 1,000 people waiting for the next showing. After being partially demolished in 1976, it is now used as a parking garage, with large parts of the remains barely intact. Photo and caption by Miru KimMichigan Theater, Detroit, MI, USA: The Michigan Theater must have been the most glorious movie palace when it was built in 1926. Its seating capacity of 4,050 was not enough to accommodate the crowd on the opening night. The lobby could hold as many as 1,000 people waiting for the next showing. After being partially demolished in 1976, it is now used as a parking garage, with large parts of the remains barely intact. Photo and caption by Miru Kim
  • Bennett School for Girls, Millbrook, NY, USA: In the quiet village of Millbrook stands a 200-room Victorian gem that has been deteriorating for more than 30 years. Halcyon Hall was originally built in 1893 as a luxury hotel, then sold to a college for women. Generations of young women from prominent American families have been educated in Bennett School over its 85-year history. Now this enchanting Queen Anne style structure stands dilapidated with collapsed floors and rooms full of debris.     As I stood on the stage of the auditorium, I remembered what a harrowing experience it was to be on stage for the first time. As the sounds from my cello resonated throughout the school auditorium, I felt my limbs go numb, wishing that the seats were empty. Photo and caption by Miru KimBennett School for Girls, Millbrook, NY, USA: In the quiet village of Millbrook stands a 200-room Victorian gem that has been deteriorating for more than 30 years. Halcyon Hall was originally built in 1893 as a luxury hotel, then sold to a college for women. Generations of young women from prominent American families have been educated in Bennett School over its 85-year history. Now this enchanting Queen Anne style structure stands dilapidated with collapsed floors and rooms full of debris. As I stood on the stage of the auditorium, I remembered what a harrowing experience it was to be on stage for the first time. As the sounds from my cello resonated throughout the school auditorium, I felt my limbs go numb, wishing that the seats were empty. Photo and caption by Miru Kim
  • Yedikule, Istanbul, Turkey: Across the tracks from the suburban train station Yedikule, named after the historical Fortress of Seven Towers nearby, there is an old abandoned railway depot. It covers a large area by the Sea of Marmara, with more than a dozen warehouses and buildings, some of which have been subject to devastating fires. Over the years of neglect, the complex has turned into a kind of a magical forest, with tall trees and rare flowering plants. In Istanbul, the nature seems to prevail faster than other cities I have visited. The unique climate, a mixture of weather conditions in Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, and the fertile soil make this city a paradise for wild flowers and birds. Photo and caption by Miru KimYedikule, Istanbul, Turkey: Across the tracks from the suburban train station Yedikule, named after the historical Fortress of Seven Towers nearby, there is an old abandoned railway depot. It covers a large area by the Sea of Marmara, with more than a dozen warehouses and buildings, some of which have been subject to devastating fires. Over the years of neglect, the complex has turned into a kind of a magical forest, with tall trees and rare flowering plants. In Istanbul, the nature seems to prevail faster than other cities I have visited. The unique climate, a mixture of weather conditions in Mediterranean and Black Sea regions, and the fertile soil make this city a paradise for wild flowers and birds. Photo and caption by Miru Kim
  • Büyük Valide Han, Istanbul, Turkey: Istanbul is an overload of senses. The crimson color in the evening, the smell of roasting mackerels by the river, and the chanting for prayer five times a day. The streets bustle with life–crowds moving about, cats searching for food, and cars fighting for lanes. Despite this concentration of inhabitants, Istanbul has a hidden layer rarely visited.     In Eminönü, buried among textile merchants and bric-a-brac stores, a hidden architectural treasure called Büyük Valide Han still maintains its two levels, three courtyards, and countless domes that constitute the roofs. It was built in the 1650s as a city inn, its name meaning “the Grand Inn of the Mother Sultan.” Photo and caption by Miru KimBüyük Valide Han, Istanbul, Turkey: Istanbul is an overload of senses. The crimson color in the evening, the smell of roasting mackerels by the river, and the chanting for prayer five times a day. The streets bustle with life–crowds moving about, cats searching for food, and cars fighting for lanes. Despite this concentration of inhabitants, Istanbul has a hidden layer rarely visited. In Eminönü, buried among textile merchants and bric-a-brac stores, a hidden architectural treasure called Büyük Valide Han still maintains its two levels, three courtyards, and countless domes that constitute the roofs. It was built in the 1650s as a city inn, its name meaning “the Grand Inn of the Mother Sultan.” Photo and caption by Miru Kim
  • Freedom Tunnel, New York, NY, USA: The Freedom Tunnel is a well-known tourist attraction among the underground travelers, such as urban explorers and graffiti writers. To pay homage to Freedom’s murals from the eighties and the early nineties, graffiti writers from all over the world have put their marks in the tunnel. Most murals and doodles are found under the ventilation ducts, from which natural light pours in, creating eerie spotlights for the underground gallery. Photo and caption by Miru KimFreedom Tunnel, New York, NY, USA: The Freedom Tunnel is a well-known tourist attraction among the underground travelers, such as urban explorers and graffiti writers. To pay homage to Freedom’s murals from the eighties and the early nineties, graffiti writers from all over the world have put their marks in the tunnel. Most murals and doodles are found under the ventilation ducts, from which natural light pours in, creating eerie spotlights for the underground gallery. Photo and caption by Miru Kim
  • Revere Sugar Factory, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY, USA: The Revere Sugar Factory was built in 1910 by the American Molasses Co. and was once owned by Antonio Floirendo, known as the “Banana King” for his vast banana plantations in the southern Philippines. After its doors closed in 1985, it had been in ruins for more than twenty years. The vast complex became a habitat for different kinds of animals and plants. When I heard dogs barking, I thought they were guard dogs, but soon I realized that a pack of feral dogs lived there, along with swans, ducks, rodents, and bees nesting in the barrels full of old sugar. The floor of the domed structure was covered in old molasses and stamped with animal footprints. Nature had reclaimed the space. When manmade structures are neglected for decades, interiors become exteriors and artificial spaces become natural spaces. Photo and caption by Miru KimRevere Sugar Factory, Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY, USA: The Revere Sugar Factory was built in 1910 by the American Molasses Co. and was once owned by Antonio Floirendo, known as the “Banana King” for his vast banana plantations in the southern Philippines. After its doors closed in 1985, it had been in ruins for more than twenty years. The vast complex became a habitat for different kinds of animals and plants. When I heard dogs barking, I thought they were guard dogs, but soon I realized that a pack of feral dogs lived there, along with swans, ducks, rodents, and bees nesting in the barrels full of old sugar. The floor of the domed structure was covered in old molasses and stamped with animal footprints. Nature had reclaimed the space. When manmade structures are neglected for decades, interiors become exteriors and artificial spaces become natural spaces. Photo and caption by Miru Kim
  • Tour Saint-Jacques, Paris, France: “I was near you again, my beautiful wanderer, and you showed me, in passing, the Tour Saint-Jacques under its pale scaffolding, rendering it for some time now the world’s great monument to the hidden.” From Mad Love (1937) by André Breton. Photo and caption by Miru KimTour Saint-Jacques, Paris, France: “I was near you again, my beautiful wanderer, and you showed me, in passing, the Tour Saint-Jacques under its pale scaffolding, rendering it for some time now the world’s great monument to the hidden.” From Mad Love (1937) by André Breton. Photo and caption by Miru Kim
  • Williamsburg Bridge, New York, NY, USA: Until the 1920s, the Williamsburg Bridge had the record for the longest suspension bridge span on Earth. New Yorkers celebrated its opening in December 1903 with fireworks over the East River. Sitting on the bridge, I imagined a full procession of men in top hats and coats, carriages drawn by horses, and press photographers with large wooden box cameras.     From the top of the bridge, the emotions that emanate from the spectacle of the city cannot be more unique. Perched on a narrow beam, I felt the wind, and the tower gently swaying. Photo and caption by Miry KimWilliamsburg Bridge, New York, NY, USA: Until the 1920s, the Williamsburg Bridge had the record for the longest suspension bridge span on Earth. New Yorkers celebrated its opening in December 1903 with fireworks over the East River. Sitting on the bridge, I imagined a full procession of men in top hats and coats, carriages drawn by horses, and press photographers with large wooden box cameras. From the top of the bridge, the emotions that emanate from the spectacle of the city cannot be more unique. Perched on a narrow beam, I felt the wind, and the tower gently swaying. Photo and caption by Miry Kim
  • Tarlabasi, Istanbul, Turkey: Like any growing metropolitan cities, Istanbul is undergoing constant transformation. In the last twenty years, the migration of population from Turkey's countryside to Istanbul, and the expansion of the city’s boundaries have doubled the population to 13 million. Tarlabasi is a good example of a neighborhood that has gone through many changes in its demographics and economic level. Historically it was a prosperous neighborhood inhabited by Greeks and Armenians, until the 1950s when they began moving out of Istanbul. Photo and caption by Miru KimTarlabasi, Istanbul, Turkey: Like any growing metropolitan cities, Istanbul is undergoing constant transformation. In the last twenty years, the migration of population from Turkey's countryside to Istanbul, and the expansion of the city’s boundaries have doubled the population to 13 million. Tarlabasi is a good example of a neighborhood that has gone through many changes in its demographics and economic level. Historically it was a prosperous neighborhood inhabited by Greeks and Armenians, until the 1950s when they began moving out of Istanbul. Photo and caption by Miru Kim
  • Demolition Zone, Moraenae, Seoul, Korea: I have never lived in modern high-rise apartment buildings. I also never understood why they are so unsightly. In Korea, the rate of redevelopment is astonishing. Seeking abandoned structures in Seoul, I came across countless houses with traditional rooftops being bulldozed to make way for new apartment buildings. Many houses were still full of personal memorabilia like family photographs. Residents had evacuated quickly as if a natural disaster were approaching. These scenes reminded me that the sense of security offered by man-made shelters is fragile and fugitive. The high-rise apartment buildings will some day meet the same fate of being evacuated and demolished. Photo and caption by Miru KimDemolition Zone, Moraenae, Seoul, Korea: I have never lived in modern high-rise apartment buildings. I also never understood why they are so unsightly. In Korea, the rate of redevelopment is astonishing. Seeking abandoned structures in Seoul, I came across countless houses with traditional rooftops being bulldozed to make way for new apartment buildings. Many houses were still full of personal memorabilia like family photographs. Residents had evacuated quickly as if a natural disaster were approaching. These scenes reminded me that the sense of security offered by man-made shelters is fragile and fugitive. The high-rise apartment buildings will some day meet the same fate of being evacuated and demolished. Photo and caption by Miru Kim
  • Freedom Tunnel, New York, NY, USA: In the 1930s, Robert Moses covered the New York Central Railroad line to expand and improve Riverside Park, creating a tunnel underneath. With an increased use of cars and trucks for transportation, the tunnel was soon abandoned and became a haven for the homeless. Hundreds of people moved into the tunnel and built their dwellings, creating underground communities. In 1991, the tunnel was reopened for use by Amtrak, and the shantytown was bulldozed. It is impossible to know what actually happened to all the evictees. The tunnel is called the Freedom Tunnel in reference to the graffiti artist “Freedom,” who created large murals in the eighties and the early nineties to commemorate the former residents. Only after having walked through the tunnel, I could understand the implicit meaning of its name–freedom to live beyond surveillance. Photo and caption by Miru KimFreedom Tunnel, New York, NY, USA: In the 1930s, Robert Moses covered the New York Central Railroad line to expand and improve Riverside Park, creating a tunnel underneath. With an increased use of cars and trucks for transportation, the tunnel was soon abandoned and became a haven for the homeless. Hundreds of people moved into the tunnel and built their dwellings, creating underground communities. In 1991, the tunnel was reopened for use by Amtrak, and the shantytown was bulldozed. It is impossible to know what actually happened to all the evictees. The tunnel is called the Freedom Tunnel in reference to the graffiti artist “Freedom,” who created large murals in the eighties and the early nineties to commemorate the former residents. Only after having walked through the tunnel, I could understand the implicit meaning of its name–freedom to live beyond surveillance. Photo and caption by Miru Kim
  • Manhattan Bridge, New York, NY, USA: The Manhattan Bridge is the most exquisite bridge in New York. For years I only looked up at the pigeon-blue domes and elegant metal latticework in admiration. Finally when I climbed to the top I could look down to appreciate its beauty, while feeling the entire bridge vibrate every time the subway trains passed. Photo and caption by Miru KimManhattan Bridge, New York, NY, USA: The Manhattan Bridge is the most exquisite bridge in New York. For years I only looked up at the pigeon-blue domes and elegant metal latticework in admiration. Finally when I climbed to the top I could look down to appreciate its beauty, while feeling the entire bridge vibrate every time the subway trains passed. Photo and caption by Miru Kim

Miru Kim is a New York-based artist who has explored various urban ruins such as abandoned subway stations, tunnels, sewers, catacombs, factories, hospitals, and shipyards.

For her new series that examines the relationship between pigs and humans, she has visited various industrial hog farms. She was featured as one of America’s Best and Brightest 2007 in Esquire magazine.

Miru was born in Stoneham, Massachusetts in 1981 and was raised in Seoul, Korea. She moved back to Massachusetts in 1995 to attend Phillips Academy in Andover, and moved to New York City in 1999 to attend Columbia University. In 2006, she received an MFA in painting from Pratt Institute. She is an avid cook and a rat lover.

Her work has been spotlighted in countless other international media such as The New York Times, The Financial Times, , NY Arts Magazine, La Stampa, Berlingske Tidende, VanityFair.de, Korea Herald, Vogue Girl and others.

Public collections of her work include Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art and Hana Bank. Her work has been shown in various galleries, museums, and art fairs (Gallery HYUNDAI in Seoul, Queens Museum of Art in New York, National Museum of Visual Art in Montevideo, Miami International, Lodz Biennale in Poland, etc).

She was also invited to present her work at the Entertainment Gathering in Monterey, CA (2008), and the World Culture Forum in Dresden, Germany (2009).

A 30-year old artist is now widely known for her provocative work. In her interview with AOL Weird News Miru Kim explained why she had chosen such kind of art.

“I have always been timid since childhood,” she said. “Most people may think I’m joking considering my work, but it’s true. [When I spoke at the TED technology, entertainment and design conference in 2008], I had to cross my leg and my arms both because they were shaking so much… I couldn’t even say my name during interviews a few years back.”

Kim admits that at first getting nude in front of people was challenging. “Now I’m used to it, but when I first tried to be nude in front of camera in 2004 I was very nervous,” she said.

“I remember, in order to get used to being nude for my project’s sake, I modeled for a nude portrait for a painter in Berlin, who was my studio mate at the time, and I got so nervous I couldn’t stand still.

“This was a mortifying and humiliating experience at the time. I had to force myself because I had decided on a project using myself naked in photographs. At first, it was for sheer practicality that I was doing it myself, but the performance aspect became increasingly important.”

She added: As I got used to being naked in urban ruins, I felt these spaces transform from dangerous to peaceful, from stranger to familiar.” [Miru Kim and AOL News]

Advertisement

We welcome comments that advance the story directly or with relevant tangential information. We try to block comments that use offensive language, all capital letters or appear to be spam, and we review comments frequently to ensure they meet our standards. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of TheBlogIsMine.

Scientists Venture Deep Inside Mysterious Siberian Crater [Big Picture]

Extraordinary new photos have emerged showing the haunting beauty of a mysterious Siberian crater.

Advertisement
Advertisement