As a result of having grown up in a conservative environment with traditional, stern gender expectations, Dae Uk Kim resorted to the art of sculpture and object-making as an outlet for pent-up desires. With every judgemental or bewildered look, Kim, who is based between The Netherlands and South Korea, learned early on that playing with dolls and hair was considered inappropriate, something he should give up. Unlearning these lessons about gender and masculinity, Kim, now an artist, taps into these sources of shame and repression and turns around the narrative by taking the very materials and themes that were once used to stifle him, and making objects that liberate him by cultivating beauty, joy and humour instead.
How would you describe the aesthetic of your hair art to someone who hasn’t seen your work? It can also be viewed as a drag aesthetic. It is the aesthetic that comes from the behaviour of a man who grew up in a conservative culture to express his desires outside the rigid gender boundaries. What would it look like if an object, non-human, was put in drag?