Exercise 2: Self-Representation

Is there any sense in which Lee’s work could be considered voyeuristic or even exploitative? Is she commenting on her own identity, the group identity of the people she photographs, or both?

The question of voyeurism and exploitation in Lee’s work is a difficult question to answer. Coming from the point of view of a white English male in 2020 my initial reaction is to say that the works are at best cultural appropriation. A term which has become synonymous with racism, or rather the adoption of the traits of a race which doesn’t garner the same equality as the race that adopts those traits. the film ‘Get Out’ being an excellent example of this.

However, to play devils advocate on the subject matter at hand, I associate Lee’s work more with the idea of self than with appropriation. Devoid of any context I wouldn’t hold this opinion and possibly wrongly, I also believe that the fact Lee is Korean also lends itself to the idea that the works explore what social identity means.

On the surface the works could be seen as Lee inserting herself into a culture of which her national heritage does not belong, yet across the whole collection of. her images Lee never really seems out of place. Instead, she appears as a minority amongst minorities (a minority in the sense that the works are staged within a primarily white dominate country).

Her work suggests the lack of boundaries to social groups, in that there is no stereotypical member to the group only the influence of that society on shaping, adapting and ‘fitting in’ on the individual. An idea Western often associate with eastern ‘conformist’ societies. The work suggests the idea of predisposition but yet also the freedom to change those groups. The choice of the individual to define themselves.

I think this works as Lee deftly skirts the line of adoption, she appropriates the style of the culture but doesn’t attempt to impersonate another race in doing so.

Notably it is in the typically male, western, white roles that she seems most out of place. A comment more on the lack of diversity of not only race but gender within those roles.

The Hip Hop Project (1) – Nikki S. Lee (2001)

Would you agree to Morrissey’s request if you were enjoying a day on the beach with your family? If not, why not?

The answer to would I partake in Morrissey’s work would all depend on the situation. I am inclined to say yes but the deciding factor will be dependant on the approach of the artist, the circumstances of approach and the willingness of the participants. From the look of the images it seems everyone involved was enjoying the moment and process which gives me no immediate cause for discontent. The idea of Morrissey challenging the social boundaries that we normally instigate and enforce in public is interesting. The relationship between strangers immediately and irrevokably created for the image gives all involved a memory and point of commonality.

Morrissey uses self-portraiture in more of her work, namely ​Seven​ and ​The Failed Realist​. Look at these projects online and make some notes in your learning log.

Morrissey’s collection of images for ‘the Failed Realist’ consist of a series of self-portraits, shot as a head and shoulders, straight and flat headshot. The only continually developing part of each frame is the change of character painted onto her face by her young daughter. It both shows the many different roles that Morrissey plays as a mother but also the ever changing and developing interests of the young mind and the playful freedom of will that she has developed.

For ‘Seven Years’ Morrissey enlists the help of her sibling to re-enact, with fine attention to detail, compositions based on actual photos, memories and composites of their family life through the 1970’s and 80’s. The work reflects the relationships that the sisters have experienced, the conflicts, special moments and interpretations of stories and memories. Morrissey describes the works as reflect the familial tensions present in all families, but I see it more as the family influence on the individual.


Books and Mortar (2013) At: https://www.guggenheim.org/blogs/map/books-and-mortar (Accessed 09/07/2020).Morrissey | CCC Strozzina (s.d.) At: http://www.strozzina.org/en/artists/trish-morrissey/ (Accessed 09/07/2020).Morrissey, T. (s.d.) Trish Morrissey – Seven Years. At: https://www.lensculture.com/trish-morrissey?modal=project-230591 (Accessed 09/07/2020a).Morrissey, T. (s.d.) Trish Morrissey – The Failed Realist. At: https://www.lensculture.com/projects/228833-the-failed-realist (Accessed 09/07/2020b).Nikki S. Lee (2016) At: https://www.icp.org/browse/archive/constituents/nikki-s-lee (Accessed 09/07/2020).Nikki S. Lee (2020) In: Wikipedia. At: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Nikki_S._Lee&oldid=964630870(Accessed 09/07/2020).Nikki S. Lee | artnet (s.d.) At: http://www.artnet.com/artists/nikki-s-lee/ (Accessed 09/07/2020).Nikki S. Lee | The Ohio Project (8) | The Met (s.d.) At: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/284363(Accessed 09/07/2020).The Exotic Dancers Project 23 2000 by Nikki SLee (s.d.) At: http://www.artnet.com/artists/nikki-s-lee/the-exotic-dancers-project-23-2000-SOWM1-4_BIDHTXxHQHAQcA2 (Accessed 09/07/2020).The hip hop project – 29 by Nikki SLee (s.d.) At: http://www.artnet.com/artists/nikki-s-lee/the-hip-hop-project-29-F0ZAy4UFJ67gKnwnjeM7lQ2 (Accessed 09/07/2020).The Hip Hop Project (1) (2001) At: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/12992 (Accessed 09/07/2020).The Hispanic project – 6 by Nikki SLee (s.d.) At: http://www.artnet.com/artists/nikki-s-lee/the-hispanic-project-6-oD74tVSnE5Uh161u2Pfozw2 (Accessed 09/07/2020).The ‘Projects, Parts, And Layers’ Of Nikki S. Lee (s.d.) At: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/z4y8zx/the-projects-parts-and-layers-of-nikki-s-lee (Accessed 09/07/2020).The Yuppie Project (4) (1998) At: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/12989 (Accessed 09/07/2020).Trish Morrissey (s.d.) At: http://www.trishmorrissey.com/works_pages/work-front/workpg-01.html (Accessed 09/07/2020a).Trish Morrissey (s.d.) At: http://www.trishmorrissey.com/works_pages/work-tfr/statement.html (Accessed 09/07/2020b).Trish Morrissey (s.d.) At: http://www.trishmorrissey.com/works_pages/work-sy/workpg-12.html (Accessed 09/07/2020c).Trish Morrissey (s.d.) At: http://www.trishmorrissey.com/works_pages/work-tfr/workpg-12.html (Accessed 09/07/2020d).Trish Morrissey – Seven Years Opens in Colchester (s.d.) At: https://artdaily.cc/news/15501/Trish-Morrissey—Seven-Years-Opens-in-Colchester#.Xwd-ji3MzXQ (Accessed 09/07/2020).Untitled from the Hip Hop Project 2001 by Nikki SLee (s.d.) At: http://www.artnet.com/artists/nikki-s-lee/untitled-from-the-hip-hop-project-2001-w9b0enPCbcb9HY_bWb_ohQ2 (Accessed 09/07/2020).Untitled From the Seniors Project by Nikki SLee (s.d.) At: http://www.artnet.com/artists/nikki-s-lee/untitled-from-the-seniors-project-ryKf1qe-4fqW9nf0sFlkoA2 (Accessed 09/07/2020).

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