She admits she has a fear of germs. But for her new art installation, Miru Kim has decided to live with pigs for 104 hours, non-stop. The former medical student is staying in a pen at the front of one of the galleries at Art Basel Miami 2011, and visitors can watch her, naked, through the window. Spending four days naked inside a glass box living and sleeping with pigs might not be everyone idea of fun, but the performance artist calls it high art
She will eat and sleep alongside the animals for the next four days. And getting down in the dirt wasn’t easy for the 30-year-old, who suffered badly with obsessive-compulsive disorder as a child. ‘It’s a very concentrated industrial environment, so the level of smell is toxic,’ she told the Huffington Post. ‘I get into a mental zone when I am doing a shoot. After I’m done, however, if I can’t get the smell off my feet, it’s very disturbing.’ Kim, the daughter of a Korean philosopher, has gained notoriety for stripping off and photographing herself naked in strange places such as abandoned factories, tunnels and bridges. She said the work helps her get over her fears – ‘fear of darkness, fear of dangerous activities in general, and fear of dirt’.
Dedicated: Kim will eat and sleep alongside the animals for the next four days. Baring all for her art: Kim, who has gained notoriety for producing art involving her own naked body, is performing at Art Basel Miami. The former medical student said her work helps her overcome her fears. Bemused and confused: Visitors watch as Kim lies with two pigs within a glass enclosure. The Miami installation is called ‘I Like Pigs and Pigs Like Me (104 hours)’
She was inspired to create I Like Pigs And Pigs Like Me after reading French philosopher Michel Serres’s book Five Senses: A Philosophy of Mingled Bodies, which explores the characteristics of skin. ‘Skin is not only an envelope protecting the inner body, or a membrane that allows exchange between exterior and interior of the body,’ Kim said. ‘It also serves as a mingling point between the outer world and inner self, and between body and soul. ‘When I mingle with pigs, I feel my existence more then ever.’
Kim became fascinated with pigs during a university dissection when she was a student at Columbia University in New York. But she went on to develop a strong attachment to the animals. ‘That is when I noticed that their anatomy and skin colour is close to ours,’ said Kim about her first intense encounter. ‘Pigs are sensitive, intelligent creatures and when I enter the pen with them on these farms they react with fear or curiosity at first.’Turkish delight: Artist Miru Kim has earned international acclaim by taking photos of herself in the nude in unusual spots such as this area of Istanbul
Using two normal pigs from a nearby farm, Miru will literally save their bacon after the weekend’s performance is up. ‘They will lead a very happy life and are already better off than when we found them,” said the America-Korean artist.
‘We are looking to place them as pets with a family or at a community farm after the show.’ Her Miami performance isn’t the first time Kim has lived with pigs, but previously, visitors had only been able to see photographs of her experience. Now she’s hoping her live performance, which ends on Saturday, will convey elements that her previous photo series couldn’t. ‘I want people to feel the process of my body mingling with pigs, the sense of touch that is harder to grasp in the final photographs,’ she said.