Deemix

February 20, 2008

Miru Kim & Urban Exploration


It’s surprising how you find something totally precious when you are not even looking for it. It happened to me last weekend right across the street from where I found Bubble Tea on Castro st. I was waiting at Louie’s Barbershop while Kingsley was getting a haircut. I was sitting on a broken barber’s chair and I decided to kill time going through some Esquire magazines and that’s when I came across Miru Kim.

She is 26, petite, creative and completely fearless. I am saying this because even though her medium is photography the dangerous lengths to which she goes to find the right picture is something else. Miru is an urban explorer. She takes naked pictures of herself in “hard, cold, sharp, and dirty (urban places where), everything is in ruins”. She goes on these missions completely unarmed, not even pepper spray, however, he feels her own nude body is her defense. In her words “If you think about it, if you see some woman naked in an abandoned building, it’s kind of scary”. I thought about and I have to agree.

Apart from having found a dead body once, things have been mostly eventless. She does mention an incident in an abandoned train tunnel, involving a squatter. “She came across a cool-looking section that she wanted to photograph, but the problem was there was a guy there who was taking up that particular space as a residency. He was sleeping and she didn’t want to wake him up, so later on when she went back — again by herself — to that exact spot and he was no longer there, she set up her tripod, camera, took her clothes off, and started taking nude photos of herself, and “he came in while I was doing this, he came in while I was taking photos of myself. I was totally alone, and this guy just completely walked in. I was so scared. That was probably the scariest moment. I saw a figure coming through the tunnel, and he didn’t have a flashlight or anything, so it was completely dark. So I see this dark figure coming toward me, then I saw that it was just this old guy who looked pretty harmless, he just lived there. So I dressed up and explained to him what I was doing — ‘I’m doing an art project, sorry to bother you’ — you know? Because it’s like his house, you know? So I told him, and he didn’t say much; he was just standing there like, Okay. So I took off my clothes again and did it in front of him and he was kind of sitting in the picture, so I was like, ‘Do you mind moving forward out of the picture, please?’ And he was just sitting around watching, so I did my thing, then dressed up. It was really filthy in there, real muddy, smelled like urine, and I was wiping off with baby wipes, and the guy was like, ‘Do you want my shirt to clean off?’ He looked probably sixty or so, I’m sure he’s younger than he looks, and really skinny. He was really nice. Afterward, we were sitting around talking about his life. He kept on talking about Rikers Island, and that he likes it down there because it’s quiet. I told him I liked that, too. And then he was like, ‘Let me walk you out.’ He thanked me for treating him like a regular person.””

Here’s her short film.

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