Christine Y. Kim

The curator discusses her approach, unrealized projects, and what changes she hopes to see in the art industry.
Illustration by Ojima Abalaka

Every city has more than one story to tell and one face to show. Regardless of the artistic background, each place is full of inspiring individuals making its own culture and story. In Plus’s online initiative, ‘City Talks,’ we feature 10 creatives representing the designated city per season, asking contributors to share personal relatedness and building an engaging community that gives a sense of belonging. 

The second season takes place in Los Angeles, and this week, we spoke with Christine Y. Kim, Curator-at-Large at Tate Modern. For more than a decade, Kim was a curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, where she established herself as a force within the city’s art scene.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up? 

Cuddle with, or if I’m traveling, FaceTime, my partner and kids.

 

Where is your favorite (go-to) restaurant in LA? Why? 

My kitchen. I love cooking for my family and friends and nourishing them with fresh comestibles, veggies, and herbs from our backyard garden.

 

What are your ways of recharging/ taking breaks? 

Pilates, walks around my neighborhood (mid-city LA), crafting with my kids while chillin’ with our crested gecko Toph.

 

What song(s) are you into these days? 

“Get into it” by Doja Cat, “Little Story” by Kehlani, and “Kill this Love” by BLACKPINK.

 

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years of your career, and is there something you wish more people would know about the role of curator? 

The role of the curator as an advocate for artists and art takes on many forms and has many parts, from the boldest gestures to the most diminutive detail, from the biggest, legacy-driving moves to obtaining documentation for archives; it’s all part of the job: long road, big picture, for future generations.

 

What would be your ways of breaking the boundaries of art? 

I have always kept one foot firmly rooted in museum institutions (from the Studio Museum in Harlem to LACMA to Tate Modern) to try to ensure that BIPOC, immigrant, and marginalized narratives are centered in institutional spaces and the other foot in community, culturally specific, and shared spaces. I have co-founded numerous non-profit organizations and advocacy groups such as LAND, GYOPO, StopDiscriminAsian among others, and I sit on advisory boards such as Denniston Hill and Museums Moving Forward because museums often don’t have the support or safe spaces for these conversations and bodies. I want to utilize and access multiple platforms to elevate and center necessary trajectories and discourses.

 

Do you have an unrealized project or shows you hope to curate in the future? 

I have several exhibitions and projects on the horizon, one in particular that focuses on diasporic Korean artists. Right now, I am focused on Tate Modern’s North American collection.

 

If you could have any artwork in your house, what would it be? 

Light.

 

How would you describe the art scene in Los Angeles? 

As deep as you want to dive/as shallow as your own vision.

 

What changes would you like to see in the art industry at large? 

I’d like to see more support, security, equity, and justice for art workers across departments and areas at museums and arts organizations of varying scales. The depth and breadth of programming depend on these workers, and the next generation needs to find viable and engaging spaces for intellect, labor, creativity, growth, and security.

 

Which three qualities in yourself are you most thankful for? 

I am grateful that I grew up around multiple languages and cultures, which in turn has enabled me to have a more nuanced understanding of social conditions today, both positive and negative, and how we need to expand and evolve.

 

Listen to all the favorite songs picked by our City Talks contributors HERE.

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