Artist research- Nikki.S.Lee

Projects

1997-2001

 

In her series ‘Projects’ she examines her own identity through looking at the relationships with herself and other people. She observes particular subcultures and ethnic groups. Lee adopts their general style and attitude through dress, gesture and posture. She then approaches the groups with her formed identity.

After introducing herself she spends several weeks participating in the groups routine activities, whilst a friend or a person from the group photographs it with her point and shot snap shot camera.

Identities she takes on include; School girl, senior citizen, urban Hispanic and rural white girl.

Individually with in the photographs it’s hard to notice Lee in the crowds, however when grouped together it’s her own Korean ethnicity, which subtly reveals her. The use of her snap shot images look so natural it adds to the creation that she belongs there.

Lee’s project proposes questions regarding identity and social behaviour.

Do we choose our social groups consciously?

How does other people identify us?

Is it possible for us to move between cultures?

Lee states in an article “essentially life itself is a performance. When we change our clothes to alter our appearance, the real act is the transformation of our way of expression- the outward expression of our psyche”

Asian notions of identity influence her work, where identity is not a static set of traits belonging to an individual, but something constantly changing and defined through relationships with other people.

This notion of identity stands out the most to me as in regards to exploring public identity this I something I want to portray in my work. Showing that Identity is something that people create, it can be changed and manipulated visually. Like the work by Lee I want to show how easily the characterisation can be made to create multiple identities. Although the subject (Lee) is obviously the same person throughout it’s had to tell, when looking at her images due to stereotypes you assume she is one of the characters as she tries to blend in with although she has her own identity. This brings up the question as to what is her identity?

A feature I like from her work is that all the personas look different but you can almost see a glimpse that it is the same character throughout which is something I want to take forward in my work, although I would like to make the characters seem as different as possible I feel this is quite a difficult thing to do with just make up and costume rather than prosthetics.

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