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Untitled, C.H.F.

Jin Soo Kim

1985-1990

steel, paper, chicken wire, dirt, and acrylic

33 1/2" x 25 1/2" x 25 1/2"

Only three feet tall, untitled, C.H.F. is a bulbous little chair whose underlying metal frame is wrapped with thick skeins of tightly knotted brown paper twisted around encircling segments of chicken wire. The ropy paper skeins twine along the chair skeleton with organic energy, like vines enveloping a tree trunk, highlighting and distorting the geometry of the angular lawn chair. They thicken and dominate one side and make the chair appear off-balance and unstable. Despite having swollen its thin contours, the wrappings seem to have shrunk the standard lawn chair volume to diminutive proportions. There are empty spaces where a chair back and seat should be, with no vinyl strappings or other supports. The lines and bulk make the little chair appear rigid as well as unsteady; hard and also soft; appealing and yet uncomfortable. Its paper and chicken wire “upholstery” is covered in grit, as if the chair had long ago been mummified and then recently unearthed.

Untitled, C.H.F. has a quirky, human presence that hints at a story, such as that of a vulnerable but enduring person who has been cast off from societal moorings. Jin Soo Kim has long been “an observer of Chicago alleys,” where she sees “traces of people in the scattered and forgotten objects I pick up in the margins of the city.” She found this lawn chair abandoned in an urban alley in perfect condition; it made her think of a frail person, perhaps one with a congestive heart condition, who might have rested in it but also might have had difficulty with its inherent unsteadiness. She took it to her studio, where she swathed and wrapped it with found materials to elicit this imagined personality. The lopsided coverings have both strengthened the chair and emphasized its irregularity and unreliability, making it appear much used and bent by the pressure of a body shifting its weight and pushing to stand. Dirt from sweepings in Kim’s studio and sand from Lake Michigan were layered onto the paper and chicken wire wrappings with fifty applications of clear acrylic sealer, resulting in a sculpture that was “born out of the studio.” The many coatings, like tree bark, evoke both growth and fossilization. Color was then applied with acrylic paint. Kim named the chair untitled, C.H.F. to signify all her musings on embodiment of congestive heart failure.

Credit

Gift of Karen Lennox Gallery, Chicago