Portrait Heejoo

Heejoo Kim

Heejoo Kim is a metal artist and contemporary jewellery maker living and working in South Korea. In her work she focuses on the connection between human beings, lifetime and nature.

What have you rebelled against in the past, and what are you rebelling against now?
I have been rebellious against the stereotypes, perspectives, authority, and prejudices of the world surrounding me. However, I do not think it was very aggressive or revolutionary. Now I turn the critical eye on myself. I often think about my internal irrationality, the fixed identity of me that my experiences have been forming and the discrepancies in my thoughts. Reflections and rebellions about the fixed identity that I have created in the past and the present will continue for some time.

Do you need to be a rebel to enjoy your work?
It is always necessary to contemplate and rebel. In particular, my works are made up of traditional craft techniques which have been used steadily. I have been reinterpreting such traditional techniques and materials and incorporating them into my own language. Although the gap is not huge, I like the changes showing the various possibilities.

Do you use your own work?
I use them occasionally.

Do you think dishware can still be improved? If yes, in what way?
New dishware can suggest a new way of eating. As though new foods continue to be invented, I think that new dishware can be created for them. In addition to chefs’ innovative foods, the inventions of bowls and cutlery that make enjoying everyday foods more convenient and novel will be able to enrich and diversify the food culture. I think it is the advance of dishware.

What was the inspiration for your Steinbeisser series?
The keywords of my work are accumulating layers and tactile imagery. Using the electroforming technique, a metal layer is stacked to form a metal structure, and an Ottchil (Korean natural lacquer) layer is stacked thereon to cover the surface so as to contain food. Electroforming technique creates new metal structures in the tank as though life forms in an incubator. The bowls are protected by Ottchil layers that prevent food from decay and remain unaffected after hundreds of years.

Describe your work in 3 words!
Tactile. Accumulation. Poetic.

What kind of materials do you use and where do you get them from?
I mainly use metal and Ottchil (Korean natural lacquer). In particular, electroforming is the process of making a new metal form with electrolytic metal particles, therefore, I usually make new forms using pieces of copper which have been left out or left in use. The extinction and the creation of the old and the new occur at the same time. I think this is very interesting.

What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on a new way to reinterpret electroforming and the traditional Ottchil lacquer technique.

What excites you about tomorrow?
The success of current projects, the idea of a new one, and the small delights of daily life.

What has been your favourite dinner experience?
I like a formal dinner. It is so much fun to taste and feel the ideas and senses of a great chef. The most special dinner for me was the one in Gaggan in Bangkok. I could feel the delicate and intense dishes of chef Gaggan Anand, and the food presentation also pleased my eyes. As an artist, it was a creative experience full of inspiration.

What further ambitions do you have?
To make my story stronger by successfully completing the current project, and collaborate with artists in other fields to expand our works and present a new craft culture together.

What are you 3 favourite pieces on Jouw…?
The Wine Glasses by Jochen Holz, the Slowly Slowly Wood Plates by Kun Zhang, and the Playful Spoons by Laia Ribas Valls.