‘Me’ and ‘them’: the in-between where ‘my identity’ tends to change organically.
- Nikki S. Lee
We’ve lived vicariously through Nikki S. Lee’s Projects, as she physically, mentally, and spiritually explored different subcultures and ethnic realities. From drag queen to skater, Hispano to senior citizen, Lee strenuously took on these different identities, scraping her knees from skating and bruising her body on stripper poles, all while crossing generational gaps and cultural boundaries. These simple snapshots taken by friends from the performed realities she explored make her insertion seem much more real, raw, and understood. Take a look Nikki embodying different personas in the Seniors, Lesbians, Hip-hop, and Schoolgirls Projects in our galleries.
We’ve also experienced Parts of Lee’s life, situations, and contexts. These cropped photographs depict Lee immersed in the performance of her day with significant others and friends. The isolation of the artist’s participation in the image conveys connections between performance and non-performance, existence and non-existence.
And finally, we’ve discovered different cultural interpretations of the artist’s face, embedded in Layers (2008) of photographs of her street portraits drawn in 14 different cities. From Bangkok to New York, Paris to Buenos Aires, and many destinations in between, the layers of these portraits reveal deeply embedded sketches of Lee’s personalities.
From photography and performance to film and multimedia, Lee’s representations and reflections tackle the fragile interdependence between perception and identity. After undertaking these well-developed and diverse series, it’s about time she’s earned a retrospective.
Nikki S. Lee presents Projects, Parts, and Layers, a retrospective exhibition of the past ten years of her identity exploration, social examination, and experiential expression at One and J Gallery in Seoul. The exhibition continues until June 19.