from Korea or Korean communities
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 25 November 2008 18:24
Yeon Lee's digital images invite the viewer to contemplate her interpretations and play upon memories first experienced as a child or adolescent in Korea, writes Sajid Rizvi.
Yeon Li co-exhibited in The 38th Parallel exhibition, G-Spot, London, 26 November 2008-31 January, 2009.
At times erotically charged and at other times disturbing and therefore challenging in their engagement with the viewer's eye, Yeon Lee's current work involves a kind of role playing, dressing up, or not at all, and giving some surprising twists to an expected or everyday experience.
Whether her background as a sculptor comes through in some of Yeon Lee's photography is not always apparent and in any case not critical to considering the work at hand. Having learnt about her sculptural past, a viewer may be forgiven for seeing sculptural elements in her use of costume and accessories (as in the work above) or indeed in the use of the body of the protagonist -- herself -- as a form articulating layers of meaning.
Yeon Lee's playful and seemingly harmless mischievous interpretations are as much a part of her own story as they are a story that the viewer has the freedom to make her/his own.
There is now an ever widening discourse involving women artists from societies that are either in socioeconomic flux or appear locked in acute but often comfy contradictions. The modernising Korea is a good example and subject matter for artists -- steeped in centuries of tradition but plying confidently on the technological superhighway
When considering work such as that seen in Yeon Lee's latest exhibition in London, it is hard to escape comparisons with affluent Middle Eastern societies, blessed with practically all luxuries except the privilege of free expression, or with brazenly male-dominated cultures of Central and South America. But that is about as far as such perfunctory comparisons should go. Korea is a developed society and despite numerous past setbacks a thriving democracy. Yet not all Koreans -- female or male-- will feel comfortable with Yeon Lee's current work.
That is one good reason why she should continue with it and gather fellow travellers -- at the very least, a wider, global audience -- along the way.
Also, it would be grossly limiting, certainly a mistake, to identify Yeon Lee's work as feminist and box it away as such.
Yeon Lee's Statement
I grew up in a very traditional Korean family. In this very strict environment women take a very subservient role in life, they are supposed to devote themselves entirely to their family without developing any desires of their own. Although the role of women has changed a lot compared to past generations, the inequality between women and men has still not been conquered entirely. In her work Lee tries to explore women's inequality and cultural differences based on displacement, isolation and general convention. Some of my artwork is based on personal memories and experiences from the past and the present but overall it is based on women in general.
More about Yeon Lee
Yeon Lee gained her Masters at Goldsmiths College in 2008 and currently lives in London. Her previous MA in fine arts resulted from studies in sculpture at the Hong-Ik University, South Korea. Yeon Lee has exhibited in Korea and Europe.
- Last Updated on Monday, 02 January 2012 10:47
Two contemporary Korean art exhibitions have come to London in quick succession, writes Sajid Rizvi.
- Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 December 2011 11:51
The recently opened Korean Cultural Centre in London has mounted its second exhibition, Contemporary Korean art from the National Museum, Seoul (27 March -16 May, 2008), bringing together a wide selection of artists' works from that museum's collections.
- Last Updated on Monday, 09 January 2012 17:15
Bongsu Park gave some inkling of her quest, her ambitious journey, when she participated in a London exhibition, intriguingly titled Grotesque Genome, in November 2011, writes Sajid Rizvi.
- Last Updated on Monday, 26 December 2011 20:00
The Asia House in London was the venue for The Korean Miracle: A Cultural Evolution, an exhibition (3- 16 November 2011) featuring the work of artists Bae Joonsung, Gwon Osang, Hong Sungchul, Je Baak and Kim Hyuenjun.