As the “Gateway to the Americas,” Miami has long been recognized as a global city. Each year, millions of people arrive at our airport and seaport for a visit here or on their way to myriad destinations across the hemisphere.
The Babel of languages and multitude of faces one encounters on our streets are a reminder that our metropolis is remarkable not only for its global diversity but also for its constant reinvention. And a new exhibit by Korean artist and world traveler Kimsooja at the Miami Art Museum (101 W. Flagler St., Miami) raises the question of whether the individual can maintain a sense of self in this increasingly globalized world.
Her exhibit, “Kimsooja: A Needle Woman,” takes its name from the multichannel video installation that is the show’s centerpiece, which explores globalization’s impact on cities throughout the world. In it, the artist appears as a solitary figure wearing a drab gray frock and viewed from behind, frozen motionless while torrents of strangers stream across her path in cities including Cairo, Delhi, London, Mexico City, New York, and Tokyo, among others.
The haunting work is presented in eight synchronized videos, placing the viewer at the epicenter of an experience reminiscent of being buffeted by foreign culture — not unlike asking a pedestrian for directions on a Little Havana street corner.
“The figure that appears in these images confronts head-on the fearsome power of the contemporary city. At the same time, through her stillness, she personifies the possibility of making peace with it,” says René Morales, MAM associate curator. “Issues of urbanism and the rhetoric that surrounds the ‘global city’ construct have particular resonance here in Miami. Kimsooja deals with these topics with nuance and poetry.”
Tuesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 12-5 p.m. Starts: June 29. Continues through Aug. 26, 2012