• Christine Sun Kim One Week of Lullabies for Roux  2018, seven-channel audio. Courtesy the artist and WHITE SPACE BEIJING
  • Suggested Amount of Allowing Friends to Sing Songs to a Baby, 2018. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Kell Yang-Sammataro
  • Installation view: “Christine Sun Kim: Finish Forever” at Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles, 2018
  • Muffled Club Music, 2016. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Kell Yang-Sammataro
Reference Gallery

Christine Sun Kim: Off the Charts

ShowingFebruary 7, 2020 - April 12, 2020

Reference Gallery

California-born, Berlin-based artist Christine Sun Kim (b. 1980) works in sound, performance, drawing, installation, and video. She considers the sonic as a multi-sensory phenomenon, one whose properties are auditory, visual, and spatial, as well as socially determined. Much of her work is invested in uncovering the politics of voice, listening, and language, troubling throughout conceptions of sound as being inextricably tethered to hearing and the implicit authority of spoken over signed language.

Economic, deadpan compositions, Kim’s drawings are usually executed in black charcoal. They represent scores that translate linguistic utterances, everyday and musical sounds into lines and notes. In one body of work, she attempts to represent the spatial qualities of American Sign Language (ASL), Kim’s first language, an endeavor that is, like systems of musical notation, inherently limited. In the List Center exhibition, the artist presents a series of new drawings breaking down the various factors involved in a number of personal decisions (“Why I Do Not Read Lips,” “Why I Work with Sign Language Interpreters”) by relative importance in pie chart form. Simultaneously funny and profound, the works also pivot on the absurdity of capturing complex choices and their cultural, social, and historical underpinnings in diagrammatic shorthand.

For the recent audio installation one week of lullabies for roux (2018), Kim commissioned a group of friends to create alternative lullabies for her daughter, Roux. Adhering to a set of rules including directives to omit lyrics and speech and focus on low frequencies, these compositions serve to vary what Kim has termed the “sound diet” for her child, raised trilingually in ASL, German Sign Language (DGS), and German, and to place equal weight on all three in a culture that tends to ascribe lesser relevance to signed communication.

Christine Sun Kim: Off the Charts is organized by Henriette Huldisch, director of exhibitions and curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.

Exhibitions at the List Center are made possible with the support of Fotene & Tom Coté, Audrey & James Foster, Idee German Schoenheimer, Joyce Linde, Cynthia & John Reed, and Terry & Rick Stone. In-kind media sponsorship provided by 90.9 WBUR. 

General operating support is provided by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; the Council for the Arts at MIT; Philip S. Khoury, Associate Provost at MIT; the MIT School of Architecture + Planning; the Mass Cultural Council; and many generous individual donors. The Advisory Committee Members of the List Visual Arts Center are gratefully acknowledged.

  • One Week of Lullabies for Roux , 2018
    Installation view, Art Basel 2018, Basel, Switzerland, June 14-17, 2018.
    Courtesy the artist and WHITE SPACE BEIJING.

  • Suggested Amount of Allowing Friends to Sing Songs to a Baby, 2018.
    © Christine Sun Kim. Photo: Kell Yang-Sammataro

  •  Installation view: “Christine Sun Kim: Finish Forever” at Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles, 2018
    © Christine Sun Kim.  Photo: Robert Wedemeyer

  • Muffled Club Music, 2016. © Christine Sun Kim
    Photo: Kell Yang-Sammataro