Moe Kim’s smart textiles
In Mid-June I happened to be at the Helena of Doeverenplantsoen in the city center of The Hague, where my eye fell on a banner in front of a school building with EXPOSED in large letters, and ‘textile exhibition and fashion show’ splashed upon it.
I entered and saw graduation collections of students from the fourth-year bachelor of Textile & Fashion at the Royal Academy of Art The Hague 2019. After getting a drink and a nice snack I looked around and saw various interesting pieces. One work though stood out, a woven textile combined with neon thread - a combination of old tradition and modern technology.
The designer, Moe Kim, said she would like to explain it to me in more detail, so we made an appointment for a few days later at the cafe of Filmhuis Den Haag. There she showed me her graduation work brochure, ‘2XL’. Inside this publication were many photos of the work, an explanatory text and quotes from Shakespeare’s ‘As you like it’, as well as photos of a person in a woven rug in the middle of the night on the streets of The Hague illuminated by street lights.
“It stands for Life & the Light...” Moe Kim says of her work, “..it’s about my personal growth, which is an ongoing process.” Her graduation project is based on Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial stages in a life cycle. He describes the sequence of eight stages a person has to pass through as he /she matures.
“I translated these stages of life to weaving techniques – the life of the warp, the timeline and the episodes that happen in the weft. Then I introduced the element of light, fluorescence-coloured neon signs that I could see in my daily background. I was born in Seoul, South Korea and lived there for about 18 years. During most of my life stages I was exposed to the technological and the metropolitan. It it also helped that my sister is an engineer. ”
Translation of own experiences
She wanted to translate her own experiences into her work. “Erik Erikson, a psychologist, suggested that each stage is characterised by a specific developmental task that must be completed. I myself am now in my 5th stage. I am a Young Adult, I need to do three extra stages. For the time being I can keep going on with my 2XL work, which is also my Key Work.”
Light is a massive innovation of mankind, she says. “I mainly use EL (Electroluminescent) wire for the lighting system with Arduino, a small and cheap computer motherboard. I made five textiles. Each of the five woven textiles has its specific character: there’s one that’s neat but sensitive, especially on the sounds, there’s one that likes to show off and socialise, one that’s wise and mature, another is bubbly and giggly and yet another is pure and spotless. So they tell little stories about their emotions.”
What was her experience in the night streets of The Hague hidden in the textile? “I was walking in the night street with blinking lights everywhere – the stillness of the crisp night air. I felt I belonged to this city, but perhaps, I was thinking, I do not want to belong to any group, because I want to be a neutral person.”
Far from home
I ask her: wasn’t it a big step to move from the familiar nest in South Korea all the way to the other side of the world? “I am brave, I like adventure, to take a new step.” she tells me. “If there is good opportunity I don’t mind to go somewhere. I initially wanted to choose fashion, I was interested in fast fashion because in Korea everything goes fast. At High School I already went to Seoul Fashion Week. I prepared myself for going out of the country. I could go to London, Central Saint Martins, or America. But I got a small preference for Belgium or Holland. I went to the Open Days of the Royal Academy in The Hague and then my choice was made. It would be The Hague, Textile & Fashion department. I was accepted straight on. The Hague is very international. I appreciate that. I am surrounded by different cultures. It is a great inspiration.”
How is her experience with artlife so far? “It is always linked to school. Every year we have a big end of year exhibition. Further, I had an internship experience with Helene Dashorst Textile Design. This year I went with her to the Heimtextil Fair in Frankfurt for one week. It was a wonderful experience. My schoolmates and teachers came to visit me, overall it was very nice.”
Finally, what is her philosophy, I wonder. Moe Kim: “It is a philosophy about adapting and changing. When you translate it, you lose some of its meaning, so I give you the Korean words: '밤이 깊어 갈수록 새벽이 가까워 온다.' Literally it says, when the night gets deeper dawn comes near by. It means by adjusting on the environment naturally you will change and adapt yourself. So I would like to say my philosophy is that everything (my artwork in this case) grows and therefore naturally adapts to the changes and I am not afraid of the stage of development.”
Images: 1) BA-TF-MOE-KIM-foto by Lilli Weinstein, 13) SJOO-190616-exhibition, 14) SJOO-190616-exhibition