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Christine Sun Kim in “Friends & Strangers”Descriptive Audio

October 20, 2023

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Hovering above a table full of pastels and charcoal sticks, artist Christine Sun Kim organizes her studio space and dusts off her hands, ready to work. “I’ve just been noticing that my life is one big echo,” says Kim. “Or rather, maybe just small echoes that become one big echo, and that’s something that’s been a part of my life since I was born.” These echoes appear throughout her life, in the repetitions of her words by American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters she works with and in the language itself, as evidenced throughout the artist’s drawings. In the REDCAT theater in Los Angeles, California, Kim gives a talk about her work, where she shares insights into why she makes the work she does. Her black-and-white drawings are often infographics or diagrams, like the pie charts Why I Do Not Read Lips (2018) or Shit Hearing People Say to Me (2018), allowing her to speak across language barriers. 

At Somerset House in London, England, Kim directs the installation of four new works on canvas with the assistance of her interpreter, one of the many types of collaboration familiar to Kim. Working with her husband, Thomas Mader, and their daughter, Roux, has been another recent addition. For an exhibition, the three each created drawings based on musical staff lines, and Roux’s A Song About Family (2023) acted as the flag for Kim’s show at Somerset House. Kim’s 2023 exhibition at JTT Gallery, How Do You Hold Your Debt, contains a suite of new drawings inspired by her recognition of the differences in quality of life between Berlin and New York City, chiefly to do with debt and financial pressures. Kim’s work crosses boundaries between Deaf culture and popular culture in the subjects she tackles, and in her practice, she makes a conscious effort to participate in “the hearing world.” Her mural at the Queens Museum, Time Owes Me Rest Again (2022), reflects not only the exhausting activity of demanding access and rights as a Deaf person but also the exhaustion of being a resident of Corona, Queens, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, or the exhaustion of anyone fighting to be heard. “I want Deaf lives to be in your mind and be part of what we consider acceptable,” says Kim. “If you don’t see us, we have no place to be.”

More information and credits


Executive Producer: Tina Kukielski. Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director: Chiemi Karasawa. Editors: Mary Ann Toman, Lynn True. Cinematography: Daud Sani, David Yim. Archival Producer: Leah Ford. Associate Producer: Andrea Chung. Assistant Curator: Jurrell Lewis. Design & Animation: Ryan Carl, Nikita Iziev. Composer: Andrew Orkin. Additional Photography: Giacomo Gex, Connie Huang, Bernard Hunt, Rafael Salazar Moreno, Katie Wise, Michael Workman. Location Sound: Jae Kim, Jonathan Lau, Tarcisio Longobardi, Shane Lovero, Luiza Sá-Davis. ASL Interpretation: Rebecca De Santis, Denise Kahler-Braaten, Beth Staehle. Advising Producer: Ian Forster. 

Additional Art21 Staff: Lauren Barnett, Hannah Degarmo, Lolita Fierro, Joe Fusaro, Molaundo Jones, Emma Nordin, Anna Pruett, Jessica Svenson, Noor Tamari, Nora Wimmer.

Production Assistant: Asia Jones. Video Post-Production Services: Cut + Measure. Video Post-Production Producer: Alex Laviola. Colorist: Chris Ramey. Online & Conform: David Gauff. Additional Video Editors: Addison Post, Adam Varca. Additional Animation: Andy Cahill. Audio Post-Production Sound Services: Konsonant Post. Re-Recording Mixer: Gisela Fullà-Silvestre. Sound Editor: Ben Kruse. Assistant Editors: Ellen Askey, Stephanie Cen, Michelle Hanks. Additional Research: Susan Thompson. Station Relations: De Shields Associates. Legal Counsel: Franklin Weinrib Rudell + Vassallo.

Interns: Stephanie Ades, Sekou Cherif, Yeon Cho, Michaela Esteban, Emma Flood, Amber He, Emma Kanne, Carina Martinez, Renee Rienecker, James Santiago, Dani Wieder. 

Artwork Courtesy: Christine Sun Kim, François Ghebaly Gallery, JTT Gallery. Archival Materials: Sara Nović.

Special Thanks: The Art21 Board of Trustees, Helsa Borinstein, Laura Coxson, The Drawing Center, Goethe-Institut London, Hitomi Iwasaki, Sydney Krantz, DJ Kurs, LA Phil, Roux Mader, Thomas Mader, Media Mavens, Sam Nichols, Grace Park, Ryan Pattie, Queens Museum, REDCAT Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater, Allie Rice, Somerset House, Francine Stern, Dr. Christopher Tester, Yezica Tutic, Gan Uyeda. 

Major underwriting for Season 11 of Art in the Twenty-First Century is provided by PBS, National Endowment for the Arts, Lambent Foundation, The Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Toby Devan Lewis, Robert Lehman Foundation, and Nion McEvoy & Leslie Berriman.

Series Creators: Susan Dowling and Susan Sollins.

©2023 Art21, Inc.

Closed captionsAvailable in English, German, Romanian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Italian

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