Atta Kim

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Atta Kim (born 1956) is a South Korean photographer who has been active since the mid-1980s. He has exhibited his work internationally and was the first photographer chosen to represent South Korea in the São Paulo Biennial.

His early works were black and white portraits of subjects including psychiatric patients, individuals designated as "cultural assets" by the Korean government, and his own family. His later and most notable series of works have been exhibited as full color, large scale prints: The Museum Project, which depicts people "preserved" within Plexiglas cases placed in various settings, and ON-AIR, which uses long exposures and image compositing to make individual people and objects dissolve. Kim's work has been heavily influenced by Zen Buddhist concepts of interconnectedness and transience, and he commonly uses Buddhist iconography.


Kim was born on Geoje Island, one of the southern-most islands in South Korea, and completed elementary school there before continuing his education in Busan. He studied mechanical engineering at Changwon University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree. His application had been submitted on his behalf by a friend, who had also chosen his major for him because it offered a good prospect for a job after graduation.

Kim’s decision to become an artist caused conflict with his father, a schoolteacher who wanted Kim to...
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