Minkyung Lee’s “Constructed Visions”

A Home for Everyone_Foreign home series

In our current exhibition Constructed Visions: New Media from Korea, we’re presenting the work of four Korean artists who challenge our ideas of reality. In the work of one of these artists, Minkyung Lee,  there exist two spaces—the actual environment that the artist captures with her camera and the fictitious space that she constructs using those images.

Minkyung Lee creates a new reality in her images of domestic environments. As a collector selects an object for his or her collection, Lee photographically collects spaces that catch her attention. Capturing the elements within the space (ceiling, furniture, walls and so on) individually, Lee uses these images to construct miniature models.  That miniature environment then becomes the subject of the final photograph, the finished work.

The Sink Room

An influence on this series was Lee’s visit to the studio of artist Cindy Sherman in New York in 2005. As she looked around Sherman’s attic studio, struck by how different it was from other well-known New York artists’ studios, Lee realized that spaces can be the reflection of the person who occupies it. The Foreign Home series, of which the top image A Home for Everyone is part, is an extension of this concept. Lee uses photographs of her own home and those of Korean friends also living in the U.S. to examine how spaces reflect their social and cultural background, aspirations, and the issue of displacement. Although each facet used in Home for Everyone is taken from a concrete location, the final image reflects complex memories and relationships that evolve from the source material. She presents these places of her imagining as a summation of the occupants’ identity, cultural upbringing, situation and aspirations in life.

Although trained as a painter, Minkyung Lee chooses photography. When looking at photography, we usually assume that the image reflects an actual scene or event. However, Lee believes that such reality is temporal and circumstantial and communicates these ideas through her constructed photography. Since memories are continuously changing and affected by subsequent experiences, Lee builds her models, which are based on her memories, with fragile materials and destroys them after they are photographed. ~CM

Minkyung Lee, Home for Everyone_ Foreign Home series2007, Archival inkjet print, Loaned by the artist

Minkyung Lee, The Sink Room2007, Archival inkjet print, Loaned by the artist

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