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BIOGRAPHY

Heesoo Kwon (b. 1990, Seoul, South Korea) is a multidisciplinary artist currently based in the Bay Area, California. Kwon is known for her surreal and fantastical video imagery—an investigation into the digital sublime that relates to her substantial body of work which revolves around Leymusoom, an autobiographical feminist religion that Kwon has created.

In 2017, Kwon initiated Leymusoom as an ever-evolving framework to explore her family histories and communal feminist liberation. Leymusoom began as the artist’s personal resistance against misogyny and patriarchy; it has since evolved into a full-fledged religion, with over 200 followers as of 2022. Kwon interprets religion as an ideology that people follow or accept without question, and from that perspective, she considers misogyny and patriarchy as religions themselves.

Leymusoom practitioners appropriate religious terms to underscore the power of patriarchy and misogyny in daily life and their will to develop feminism as their new religion. The term Leymusoom encompasses its religious community, active practitioners, each practitioner’s autonomous religion, and the movement to seek and define feminism as rooted in one’s own history. Joining, practicing and being a Leymusoom implies a personal conversion from patriarchy to feminism, thus creating and practicing personal/communal feminist rituals.

Kwon uses technology as a ritualistic tool to call her ancestors, channel their lives, and visualize the spiritual interactions they have. Developing a Leymusoom feminist utopia is a conceptual practice addressing themes of feminism, queer Korean women’s history, and social practice through immersive installation, performance, digital media, and the metaverse. Kwon is known for her 3D rendered videos of her own female ancestors, whom she gives new life to in her digital universe, granting them an existence free of the misogynistic structures they were subjected to during their lifetimes. Modeled from family photos and old home videos, Kwon’s ancestors exist throughout the videos, games, and digital projects she creates.

Kwon received a Business degree from Ewha Woman's University in 2015 and received the Female Inventor of the Year Award from the Korean Intellectual Property Office in 2012. After finishing her studies, Kwon invented a wrapping paper for sanitary pads that concealed the product. Her intention was to help women who feel uncomfortable carrying them in public, but she came to the realization that her invention actually stemmed from internalized misogyny as imposed by patriarchal social structures. Following the startling conclusion that the innovation she believed would aid society was actually a regurgitation of the misogyny and violence she had been exposed to, she started to make art in order to shed off the life-long burden she and the women before her had experienced as Korean women, redesigning her life within a feminist/queer framework.

In 2019, Kwon received her MFA from the University of California, Berkeley. She went on to be a finalist of the Queer|Art|Prize of recent works in 2021 and the SFMOMA SECA award in 2022. She was a recipient of the Hewlett 50 award for media arts in 2022 in collaboration with Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco. She is currently an Assistant Professor in Animation at California College of Arts.

Her work has been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions at Sound Art Korea, West Den Haag, the Netherlands (2022); Beijing Times Art Museum, China (2022); Ryan Lee Gallery, New York (2022); re.riddle, San Francisco (2022); Alternative Space LOOP, Seoul, South Korea (2022); Blinkers, Winnipeg, Canada (2022); Chinese Culture Center, San Francisco (2021); Site Gallery, Sheffield, UK (2021); 47 Canal, New York (2020); Et Al, San Francisco (2019); Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (2019); Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology, Berkeley (2019); and CICA Museum, Gyeonggi-do, South Korea (2017).

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