Interview with Rim Yoo, Digital Media Artist and Artist in Residence at Rud AIR, Sweden
When you go on a residency for the first time, how do you decide where to go? Most people will try to dip their toes in a bit; go to a place that’s familiar, where you can communicate with people and understand the culture. Others jump right in and shock themselves into going to a place where everything is in contrast with their home; where the people look different, you don’t understand a word of their language, even their food and the very nature of the place seems foreign to you, all with the goal of experiencing and then creating something completely different.
This is what Rim Yoo did. I met Rim at RUD Air, a residency in rural Sweden. She is an artist who works mainly with digital media and she lives in Seoul, South-Korea. Seoul. I think it’s pretty hard to think of a place that is more different from Laxarby, Sweden. When I first met her, she seemed very quiet and shy, not sure about her English language skills and feeling very out of place. Me being me, I babbled away at her anyway, wondering if she understood a word of what I was syaing or if I was just monologueing. She told me she understood, not every word, but she understood what I said.
We started having tea time, where we build the fire in the kitchen together-figuring it out as we went-and had tea with ‘grandmother cookies’. Over time, she seemed to adapt. She went for walks in the area and was the first of us to spot an elk. She became more outspoken and started to talk about her life back home, and I started to understand a little bit of how different this place was from her home and how brave she was for jumping so far outside of her comfort zone.
I asked if I could do an interview with her for The Residency Project. She laughed and agreed, and with the help of a translate app she could explain to me some of the things she was experiencing. Communication with apps is still limited and makes me wish I spoke Korean so she could explain to me, as she put it, ‘all of the thoughts in my head.’ Still, even though the interview is not as extensive as others, I still want to share it with you because I believe it is inspiring to hear from someone who jumped into a place and an experience so different from what she’s always known.
We did this interview in the evening, we sat down in the cosy kitchen, made a fire and got our teacups with blueberry tea and grandmother cookies, as we had done so many evenings before. Rim would be leaving in two days, she was planning to spend a few days in Gothenburg before heading to Amsterdam for a week long holiday with a friend, after which they would go back to Seoul together. In other words, her time at the countryside was drawing to a close and she was getting ready to go back into city life.
Maybe you can start with a bit about yourself, like, your name and what kind of art you make, so people know who you are?
And…actually..I don’t know what to say about me..
Haha, okay, so you are from Seoul, right?
Right, yes, from Seoul.
And you’re here, in the middle of nowhere, Sweden.
..and you’re here to create work about the experiences you have here, and also, what you are experiencing inside by being in such a different environment from back home in Seoul.
What I feel inside, yes.
So, why did you decide on Sweden, when you decided you wanted to do a residency?
Hmm…*laughs* Maybe..it’s just a feeling, my feeling. Maybe..it’s the stream of life. I follow the stream of life.
When you first got off the plane in Stockholm, what did you feel?
I’m..very nervous, scared..and..chaos. But also..I’m flutter!
Yes! Butterflies! So, many contradictions.
Why did you decide to go on a residency?
Oh, it was like an accident! I found it by accident.
So you just found it and you thought, that’s something I want to do?
And then you get here, and you get off the bus, in the middle of nowhere, and what did you think then?
Actually, when I arrived here first, it was very dark..
Ah so you arrived at night?
Mmhm, and I can’t see anything, and it was rainy. And I was the only one!
Right, because me and Tove came later.
Yes! So, just me here in my room,and I was nervous and tired. And then I had to make the fire for the first time, and it was very hard! So everything was strange and different.
And now we’re one month later and you can make the fire and now it feels cosy and at home..
I’m adapting here, but now I’m leaving and going to different cities.
And then you have to adapt all over again!
Right! But that is fun, too.
Do you feel the work you made here is something you could only make here?
Yes, I think so.
Do you feel your work has become better because of this experience?
Of course! Because my work is very different in here. My friends say it is very different now, they see the difference between my work here and back home.
What is your friends feeling about you being here?
They want to do it too, and they think I’m crazy!
I think you’re very adventurous to do something like this, and to do it based off a feeling, a trust that something good will come out of it. And something good did come out of it because you made very new work here. Do you think you’ll do a residency again in the future?
And again to a very different place?
Yes, it was fun.
What do you think the people back home will think about the work you made here?
I think it will be very different and new for them.
What was your favourite moment here? Besides seeing the elk.
*laughs* Hmm..this, teatime. Yes.
Do you think the interaction with the other artists adds something extra to a residency?
I think so. I didn’t like connecting to others too much first, but..I seem to like it more than I thought I would. It’s surprising to me.
I feel that way too, on a residency I always feel more open to other people because suddenly you’re living together with someone you’ve never met so the connection forms much faster than it would back home.
And now you’re leaving in two days, do you feel one month was a good time or would you have liked to stay longer, or shorter?
Two months would have been good too, because it takes time to adapt.
What do you think you got out of this experience?
I seem to have to gotten to know myself in a way I didn’t know before. A feeling of peace, to take back home.
Thank you Rim, for letting me do this interview! I hope her story will be as inspiring to you as it was to me. You can see more of Rim’s work at:
If you’re interested in visiting RUD, you can read their residency profile