Cabinet of curiosities of identities
Under the enlightenment of science, the anatomic display of body parts was utilised to understand humans in the same manner as the Cabinet of Curiosities. The study of the dissected mould of body parts is aligned with the colonial Eurocentric view of ethnographic collections. In these collections, the body parts become mere fragments of exotic objects to analyse, excluding or erasing other elements of the person. Historically, the treatment of some humans as a being ‘non-human’ can be attributed to the Eurocentricity of colonisation: in Australia, the existence of First Nation people was erased by falsely claiming the ‘new found land’ as 'Terra Nullius'; under Japanese colonial government, Koreans were forcibly experimented on as a form of medical research. This injustice and violence, which resulted from racial discrimination, is not only found in our history, but is also present in our current society. Racism is evident in the current global Covid-19 pandemic in which people of Asian-appearance have been abused physically and verbally and blamed for the spreading the virus. This absurd syllogistic reasoning prejudges people based on their appearance. Within these structures of discrimination that still pervade, there is no respect of 'others'. Can these dissected body parts with unrealistic skin colours define who this person is?
Soyoun Kim is a photo-media artist and independent curator whose practice centres on the notion of identity and humanity in contemporary society. Kim's photographic works engage with and expand to current issues such as racism, gender discrimination, social inequity and violence through self-performed images that reflect on her own experience of diverse cultures and crossing borders, as a Korean female immigrant. Her works have been shown in national and international exhibitions and art awards, including MAMA National Photography Prize, Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award and Olive Cotton Award for Photographic Portraiture. Her curatorial projects as an artist include: Cadavre Exquis (2015), a collaborative project with the artists of diverse cultural background; Passage to Pusan (2017), which was commissioned by Korean Cultural Centre Sydney; and the solo show, I, there, here (2019) in Melbourne. She curated the exhibition, Aesthetics of Human Relations (2019) under the RMIT: ART: INTERSECT Curatorial Internship. She holds a Master of Arts Management (Distinction) RMIT University and is currently undertaking the Master of Contemporary Art at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.