Seoul and Beginning as an Artist
Seoul artist Kim Hansol, known to the public as Lunatic Margo, has over 800 followers on social media and is gaining attention for her unique perspective on photography and film. She has been working in these two mediums since the age of 20, but her interest really began at fifteen when she was in a photography class. With a small digital camera, she began to experiment with composition, shutter speeds, exposures, delays, and adding graphics. Even from the beginning her work stood out, receiving praise from others as being superior to professional artists.
Inspired, she enrolled in the male-dominated cinematography major at Dongguk University in Seoul where she received criticism from many of her classmates opposed to women in the field. She is still often the brunt of misogynist musings from those insisting that women shouldn’t sit behind the camera as these men somehow feel threatened by her. Having continually been a recipient of discrimination, especially from older generations who see her as bucking the trend of an ordinary male-driven society, she is a harsh critic of the sexist policies that exist in this patriarchal, Confucian culture.
Art as her Critique of Society
However, this doesn’t detract her from her passion for creation but rather the juxtaposition of being both a woman and Korean, and sometimes feeling at odds with both, is inspiring. One of the biggest challenges she faces as a female Korean artist is self-expression. She explained that gender discrimination is not just a domestic issue but it does have a long and powerful history in Korea. Even so, she is willing to address gender discrimination head-on and inspire other women to not get caught in the trap of professional and domestic life. Hence she tries to sublimate such realities, “it is my fate” she says, “that they must be resolved through my work.”
One of her biggest influences is Korean-American artist Nam June Paik who worked with a variety of media and is considered to be the founder of video art. His pieces “Japanese Invasion of Korea 1592” and “The Turtle Ship” empowered her to approach Korean issues in an artistic fashion. She counts fellow feminist Japanese contemporary artist, Yayoi Kusama as well as film directors Wes Anderson and Ellen Kuras as notable influences too.
She believes that artistic inspiration can be found anywhere, even finding that the most achingly quotidian of moments have potential for greatness, that a bright spot can always be found. She loves using spheres and reflections (see Infinite Spheres One and Two) as they symbolize equality from whichever angle they are viewed. Both these images along with photos of her hometown Suncheon Bay (Infinite Spheres Three and Four) are used to express both discrimination as a representation of her roots. She wants everyone to exist in an equal sphere without blame, despite differences in shape and/or size, real or imagined.
Despite not having a studio, much of her work can be found online. She says that social networks are the best way for others to appreciate her work. Samsara (wanderlust, circuitous change) and new experiences are what keep her inspired. Her future goals include visiting and working in new places and not settling down. Her reality is defined by her work and making work that is not constrained by the imagined structures of reality. For Lunatic Margo she can’t imagine life any other way.