A rainbow opens like a pink-red mouth across the sky. A man crouches in front of a lit-up fridge like it’s an oasis of light in the dark room. Light like yellow sweat is drying on a man’s face. In a self-portrait, Kim sticks out her tongue and a wave of reflected light fans out behind her like arms on an Indian god. These are a few of the photographs in Sandy Kim’s Into the Light. Kim is the kind of artist whose days are lived most vibrantly at sundown, inside, or at dusk. She moths towards subterranean lamps and chain link fences, trespassing into odd places that promise a new kind of pleasure.
The settings for these photos vary—there are hallways with lamps stuck onto ceilings like lit eggs, and subterranean venues whose strobes seem aquatic. There are rooftops, gas stations, and bar bathrooms. The cover image, a girl with a band of blue light coming from or shining down onto her head, gives the impression that light is an alien force, something foreign with the power to guide urges. The light in these images is indeed spectral, unearthly, and mesmerizing. It’s more than visual—it’s a feeling, a Martian atmosphere. The curly-haired woman climbing the fence in no clothes has a back so bright that her hair falling across it becomes another being altogether. The light will take her up and over the fence, you think—and you feel good about that and wherever this nude woman is heading.
After Into the Light you might find yourself lost in considering how light enters into the way you perceive a given moment. Your girlfriend may be telling you, “I think we need some time apart” or, “I’m leaving you,” and all you’ll notice is how the beam of light from the lamp is melting together the two cats lying on her desk into another creature entirely.
Reviewed by Maria Anderson