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39 Kimsooja was born in 1957 in Daegu Korea. She trained as a painter in the 1980s but began to work with artisanal materials and fabrics in particular the ybulbo a traditional Korean fabric with many uses as bedcovers birthing cloths and wrappers for objects. She gathered them in colorful bundles called bottari which she used in installations and performances. As a further development of her practice Kimsooja used her body as the needle in interventions in pub- lic spaces. Commissioned in 1999 by a contemporary art center in Japan to create a performance piece she at rst envisioned a walking performance in Tokyo but by the time she reached the busy shopping district of Shibuya she became overwhelmed by the thousands of people on the streets. She halted standing still to allow the crowds to ow by and around her. As she said I decided to continue this performance literally to meet everyone in the world choosing to perform in eight metropolises in different continents around the world. In each city I stood still as a symbolic needle to reveal the human conditions in existential geo-cultur- al and socio-political dimensions as an axis of both space and time. The museums recently acquired A Beggar Woman Cairo is one of three videos in the Beggar Woman series that followed in 20002001 including perfor- mances on the streets of Mexico City and Lagos. Kimsooja relates that the inspiration for the Beggar Woman performances was an elderly woman beg- ging on the streets of Mexico City. She was struck by her posture her tiny motionless form and the way in which she was totally wrapped within herself. In lowering to a seated position and extending her hand the artist recalls feeling exceptionally vulner- able as if she were actually begging. The Cairo performance opens with several minutes of a tightly packed crowd of mostly men with women walking by. The crowd is parted by a man in a ma- roon sweater and khaki pants who opens a view of the artist sitting on the pavement with her hand out- stretched. The perimeter of male observers is drawn closely around her shoulder to shoulder with little personal space accorded the artist. The effect is in- tensely claustrophobic and unsettling. One man - nally steps forward and places his cupped hand under hers lifting her hand very slightly he then turns and walks away. Describing this series and the related Needle Woman videos critic Oliva Mara Rubio wrote in 2006 The common denominator to this series of videos is the female form a motionless woman with her back to the cameraWherever she may be the gure of the artist is always inaccessible her face hidden from the viewer. The viewer is thus refused what the crowds are permitted. The woman who will not let us see her face who obliges us to ask uncomfortable questions of our- selves becomes an abstraction...Kimsooja is simulta- neously subject and object of our gaze an individual and an abstraction a specic woman and all women instrument and actress immobile and resolute. This piece was purchased with the gift of Jungkoo An and Ae Young Han in honor of their daughter Sabina An class of 2016 an anony- mous gift and funds from the Contemporary Associates. opposite page A Beggar WomanCairo 20002001. Single-channel video. Duration 8 minutes 52 seconds. Purchased with the gift of Jungkoo An and Ae Young Han in honor of their daughter Sabina An class of 2016 an anonymous gift and funds from the Contemporary Associates Kimsooja A Beggar WomanCairo