For each self-portrait in her series “Daze: Stage of Mind,” the Korean artist JeeYoung Lee created an elaborate installation in her studio, in Seoul.
Since 2007, JeeYoung Lee shoots the invisible. Whereas traditional photography submits extracts of reality to our eyes, the artist offers excerpts from her heart, her memory, or her dreams. Restrained by the inherent limits of the conventional photographic medium, she adds plastic creativity and theatrical performance to it, in order to blow life into her immense needs of expression, and interrogation.
The scenes are constructed from everyday materials—plywood, paper cups, straws—and Lee decorated each handmade prop herself. The constructed landscapes are her interpretations of personal experiences, dreams, and Korean folk tales.
For weeks, sometimes months, she creates the fabric of a universe born from her mind within the confines of her 3 x 6 m studio. She does so with infinite minutiae and extraordinary patience, in order to exclude any ulterior photographic alteration. Thus materialised, these worlds turn real and concretise : imagination reverts to the tangible and the photo imagery of such fiction testify as to their reality. In the midst of each of these sets stands the artist : those self-portraits however are never frontal, since it is never her visual aspect she shows, but rather her quest for an identity, her desires and her frame of mind. Her creations act as a catharsis which allows her to accept social repression and frustrations. The moment required to set the stage gives her time to meditate about the causes of her interior conflicts and hence exorcise them; once experienced, they in turn become portents of hope.
Recipient of multiple artistic awards including the Sovereign Art Prize (2012), JeeYoung Lee is one the the most promising up-and-rising figureheads of the younger Korean artistic world. Following the huge success of her first solo show outside of Korea with OPIOM Gallery in 2014, her work was seen 500 000 times on Reddit in just 2 days and has been featured in the worldwide media from the USA to China (all international editions of the Huffington Post, NBC news, CNN international, France 3 National news, China Daily, etc.).