In ‘A Farewell To Arms’ Ernest Hemingway wrote that ‘the world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places’. Perhaps it is part of the human condition that none of us can escape the act of living quite unscathed and that at various moments in our existence we feel or are made to feel that we have to fix ourselves. This beautiful work by Korean digital artist and sculptor Kyuin Shim perfectly captures that part of our collective psyche to me. Kyuin’s 3D works show us surreal body alterations that can be both surprisingly tender and as in this case, profoundly emotional. The work, titled Thornstuckhog, had an immediate impact on me when I first saw it, one that lasted up until this moment where I can share it with you now. We see an androgynous human figure, who like a symbolic hedgehog, wears a layer of yellow handled screwdrivers pinned into its skin. For me this instantly linked to the idea we have or that gets pushed on us at times that there is something wrong with us, that we are essentially broken and need fixing.
It also shows how much these feelings of inadequacy can weigh us down, to the point where we feel, perhaps like the shown character, that we’ve tried everything to fix our brokenness, but are finding that nothing works. There is an industry out there of self-help gurus that may or may not offer us solutions, but that economy (and many others) also need our insecurity and profit from sustaining it. This is of course a personal interpretation of this work and perhaps you see something very different in it, but that’s the beauty of a poetic and conceptual work like this. I always applaud artists who dare tackle the still too often taboo subject of mental health and create something truly beautiful as a result. I urge you to discover some of Kyuin’s other pieces as well, which combine a dreamlike sensibility with 3D experimentation. And yes, perhaps we all have things we would like to or need to ‘fix’, but let us, above all, be careful not to lose the person we really are in the process.