Heesoo Kwon, Leymusoom Garden, 2023. Courtesy of the artist.
September 16, 2023 – February 18, 2024
Heesoo Kwon, Leymusoom Garden: Following Naked Dancing and Long Dreaming
In her first solo museum exhibition, Leymusoom Garden: Following Naked Dancing and Long Dreaming, Heesoo Kwon explores her spiritual journey connecting Korean shamanistic and indigenous perspectives to the land with her female ancestors. Her multimedia installation extends the queer feminist utopian digital space of Leymusoom to the mysticism of the garden, deepening her connection to the land and women’s freedom and desire.
The newest video piece, Leymusoom Garden, explores the Korean shamanistic worldview, the Dokkaebi folk myth (Korean: 도깨비), the Mago creator myth, Skywoman myth, Kwon’s female ancestors, and her community from the Leymusoom Collective and the Dong Ji Collective. The exhibition emulates the garden at her maternal grandparents’ home in Gongju-si, South Korea and the land she currently lives on in the unceded Ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone people. The garden becomes a sanctuary for Kwon to confront generational trauma by collecting oral histories from elders, clearing out the weeds of past traumas, and sowing new seeds that will flourish.
Positioning herself as an artist, activist, archivist, anthropologist, and religious figure, Kwon builds feminist utopias in the digital realm that liberate one from personal, familial, and historical trauma rooted in patriarchy. Central to her practice and substantial bodies of work is Leymusoom, an autobiographical feminist religion she initiated in 2017 as a form of resistance against misogyny as an ever-evolving framework for investigating her family histories. Kwon utilizes technologies such as digital archiving, 3D scanning, and animation as her ritualistic and shamanistic tools to regenerate her female ancestors’ lives without constraints of time and space, and to queer her past, present, and utopian dreams. Leymusoom becomes a practice for her to reimagine time, boundaries of love, sacrifice, violence, and trauma.
The exhibition invites audience members to envision their ancestries, autobiographies, and bodies as interconnected to the land.
Leymusoom Garden at the ICA San José has been made possible thanks to lead sponsorship from the Ronald Whittier Family Foundation, along with additional support from the SJICA Board-directed 2020 Fund and Micki Meng Gallery. Programs and exhibitions at the ICA are made possible with thanks to generous support from the City of San José’s Office of Cultural Affairs; along with significant support from Applied Materials, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Lipman Family Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; along with additional support from SVCreates. In-kind support has been provided by Kelly Moore Paints. Curated by Zoë Latzer, Curator and Director of Public Programs.
Special thanks and love to whom helped to build this garden: Andrew Sungtaek Ingersoll, Julie Moon, Danna Kim, Youjin Han, Kazumi Chin, Jane Kang, Robert Borsdorf, Dong Ji Collective, Leymusoom Collective, and Kwon’s family. With thanks Chung Hyun Kyung for the inspiration for the title in their essay “Following Naked Dancing and Long Dreaming.”
About Heesoo Kwon
Heesoo Kwon is a multidisciplinary artist from South Korea currently based in the Bay Area, California. Kwon earned a Master of Fine Arts at the University of California, Berkeley, and will start her position as an Assistant Professor in the Animation department at California College of the Arts in the Fall of 2023. She has had solo and group exhibitions at Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, CA; Artists’ Television Access, San Francisco, CA; San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Gray Area, San Francisco, CA; A.I.R. Gallery, New York, NY; 47 Canal, New York, NY; Blinkers Art & Project Space, Winnipeg, Canada; West Den Haag, Netherlands; CICA Museum, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea; Alternative Space Loop, Seoul, South Korea and WMA Space, Hong Kong. She has also participated in international projects, biennales, and festivals, as such CineMigrante Argentina, Buenos Aires, Argentina; ART CITY Bologna 2021, Bologna, Italy; Sheffield DocFest Arts Programme 2021, Site Gallery, Sheffield, UK; 20th Seoul International ALT Cinema & Media Festival, Seoul, South Korea; Feminism Media Artivist Biennale, I-GONG Alternative Visual Culture Factory, Seoul, South Korea; 3rd MINIKINO FILM WEEK – Official 2017 Final list, Bali, Indonesia and the ASIA DIGITAL ART EXHIBITION 2022, Beijing, China. She was recently awarded the 2025 Eureka Fellowship from the Fleishhacker Foundation, the 2022 50 Arts Commission for Media Arts from the Hewlett Foundation, and the 2023 Artadia award recipient from the Bay Area. She was a finalist for the 2021 SECA Award at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the 2021 Queer|Art|Prize at Queer|Art.