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Kimsooja – (Un)Folding Bottari

25.10.2023 to 19.02.2024
Humboldt Forum

At the invitation of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst, the artist Kimsooja together with guest curator Keumhwa Kim has developed a sequence of interventions in the permanent exhibitions. The show serves as the prelude to a series of new exhibition projects that mark the Humboldt Forum as a site of contemporary artistic and social debates. It presents 14 stand-alone or groups of works by the internationally acclaimed, Korean-born artist, unfolding in their diversity of media throughout the galleries of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst and the Ethnologisches Museum at the Humboldt Forum. Existing works and new pieces created especially for the exhibition connect associatively with the historical objects in the museums' galleries, stimulating dialogues and placing the collections and their themes in a relationship to the present.

Container: Bottari 19992019

Even before visitors enter the museum, they are confronted with a shipping container painted in the Korean colour scheme of obangsaek (the primary colours plus black and white) in the outdoor space in front of the Humboldt Forum, referencing the exhibition on the third floor. “Bottari 1999–2019” is also emblematic of the working principles of this conceptual artist, who develops works of art from everyday objects, which she refers to as “deductive objects”, and which reflect her own experience while also operating in a site-specific manner.

Bottari and Moon Jars

Bottari, sculptural objects made of richly coloured textiles, are a characteristic motif in Kimsooja’s work, and function as both material and metaphor. They symbolise both protective reception and unfolding and offering. In cooperation with the Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen, a new group of porcelain works related to Bottari was created especially for the exhibition.

Inspired by the aesthetics of so-called moon jars (Korean storage vessels from the 18th century), the artist adapted historical technologies that were then translated by the Meissen ceramists. In her works, Kimsooja addresses the universal themes of home, migration and mobility. On a formal level, her works also touch on issues of transcendence and repetitive doing as a meditative practice.


Rooted in Korean traditions and working with a diverse range of media, Kimsooja combines personal history with global themes in her installations, performances, sculptures, films and photographs. With a minimum of interventions and restrained actions – which she describes as the “art of non-making” – she seeks to reveal the hidden, to make the immaterial and ephemeral tangible.

By appropriating objects and patterns of action, she links spaces, times and cultural practices. In the two museums, her artworks visualize entanglements and offer themselves as a space of interaction and interpretation. With her work, the artist also questions the hierarchisation of the transfer of knowledge from West to East and the opposition of art and everyday life.


A conversation between Kimsooja and curator Keumhwa Kim will take place on 25 October 2023 at 5 pm in room 306 (in English).


An accompanying booklet with descriptions of the works and an interview with the artist will be published approximately three weeks after the opening of the exhibition.

Curatorial Team

Keumhwa Kim, Emma Shu-hui Lin, Kerstin Pinther and Uta Rahman-Steinert.

This exhibition forms part of the Collaborative Museum (CoMuse) project, and was created in collaboration with the Staatliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Meissen.
The exhibition is supported by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea, the Korea Arts Management Service, and the Fund for Korean Art Abroad.
Our thanks go to KEWENIG, Berlin, and Axel Vervoordt Gallery.

The exhibition is held in the galleries of the Museum für Asiatische Kunst and the Ethnologisches Museum, in rooms 319, 318, 306 and 304 at the Humboldt Forum.

10178 Berlin

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U-Bahn: Friedrichstraße
S-Bahn: Friedrichstraße, Hackescher Markt
Tram: Am Kupfergraben, Hackescher Markt
Bus: Staatsoper, Lustgarten, Friedrichstraße

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Sun 10:30 - 18:30
Mon 10:00 - 18:30
Tue closed
Wed 10:30 - 18:30
Thu 10:30 - 18:30
Fri 10:30 - 18:30
Sat 10:30 - 18:30

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