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Work / Photography

KangHee Kim’s surrealist photographs act as escapism from her visa restrictions

Born in Seoul and now living in New York, photographer KangHee Kim’s project Street Errands is a series of collaged photographs that have been taken in New York and a few other places around the USA. “They are mostly created from constructing my own form of surreal escapism by manipulating images produced from mundane encounters,” KangHee explains. “My work involves a juxtaposition of mundane scenes in New York and beautiful scenery outside of the city. As much as I love the city, I miss being out in nature.”

KangHee is currently restricted from travelling outside of the country due to her visa status, so to escape these constraints, the photographer creates worlds which are free from limitations. “Creating surrealist and fictional imagery allows me to feel a bit liberated from the complications,” she explains.

KangHee first got into photography by messing around with her iPhone camera and Instagram. “I started just by taking photos of things that I like. I never thought I would get so into photography at the time,” she says. “It was in my junior year of college and I was curious about how cameras worked so I took a black and white photography class. I studied painting in college so I’m basically a self-taught photographer. I started using cameras intuitively.”

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands

As a result of KangHee’s art background, her works have a painterly feel to them and are a direct reaction to her surroundings. Throughout the series we see visual subversions like reflections of palm trees in the windscreen of a snow-laden car, a cloud balancing on a wire fence, and the shadow of a sunset being cast against a fire exit door.

When building images for Street Errands, it helped KangHee to think of each image as a painting, “showing the post-production process as a way of mark making”. “I focus on the each frame without planning ahead. I have a big archive of photos from scenery and street photos,” she says. “I go through them on my computer and mix match those images. It is the most exciting part for me that leads me be in the space want to be in.” 

Using Photoshop to change her images, KangHee aims to challenges ideas of perfection by creating her own interpretation, merging to images to help them find “their spark”. “I leave traces of ‘imperfection’ untouched intentionally in the process,” says the photographer. “The small imperfections are what make people attractive and human.”

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands

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KangHee Kim: Street Errands