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Kim Ayeong wins Golden Nica of Prix Ars Electronica

Posted July. 28, 2023 08:11,   

Updated July. 28, 2023 08:11


Media artist Kim Ayeong’s “Delivery Dancer’s Sphere” portrays the life of a female delivery rider who works for a fictional delivery platform. Operating under the guidance of navigation tools, she strives to work efficiently, even if it means passing by her beloved without stopping. The artwork serves as a poignant representation of the gig economy, offering a glimpse into the challenges faced by delivery workers.

On June 12, Kim won the Golden Nica, the top prize at the Prix Ars Electronica, the world’s premier media art contest, in the category of New Animation Art. She became the first Korean artist to achieve this honor. The judging committee praised Kim’s work as a “film whose modern imagery serves as a social commentary on the perverse metrics brought about by an algorithm-centric economy and, consequently, existence” and that it is a “fantastical, fiery, and frenetic captivation of Foucaltian theories, physics, and philosophy.” The Dong-A Ilbo met Kim at Munrae Art Factory in Yeungdeungpo-gu, Seoul.

Kim’s inspiration for “Delivery Dancer’s Sphere” emerged during the pandemic when delivery riders, appearing as anonymous “ghost workers,” left the food at people’s doors and vanished without a trace. Intrigued by their lives, Kim sought to understand their experiences and approached a seasoned female delivery rider with six years of service. Kim herself even took on a part-time role as a delivery rider, delving into the realities of the job.

Through her art, Kim conveys the desperation experienced by delivery riders, who face relentless pressure to meet ever-growing demands for survival, while yearning to break free from the confines of the platform. “The younger generation faces numerous challenges, and some from Generation Z are marginalized to the point where they can’t develop their potential due to daily struggles,” Kim explained.

Despite grappling with these stark realities, Kim chooses not to lament but instead envisages and narrates a new world. Her approach has been influenced by Afrofuturism, a fusion of Africa’s traditional culture with elements of fantasy. In this genre, black artists offer alternative narratives that transcend the harshness of reality, often using time slips and science fiction to explore new possibilities.

The 2023 Prix Ars Electronica event is scheduled to take place at the Ars Electronica Festival from September 6 to 10, 2023, in Linz, Austria. Kim will participate in the awards ceremony and artists’ talks.

Min Kim kimmin@donga.com