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JeeYoung Lee





“I have been working on the series Stage of Mind since 2007. It began with self-reflection; I asked myself 'where am I in my mind?' The series has allowed me to focus on events throughout my life, which is naturally my biggest interest.

I am constantly questioning my identity and contemplating my existence. This is the core of all my photographs. I am in a continuous search for what I have to do, what I like, and what I can succeed in. You can say that my work is a record of the answers that I have found. It is a manifest of what I am made of in close relation to my situation at the time, often in the form of what I call a 'psychological landscape.' I use symbolic objects to create a scene, a metaphoric reconstruction of my perception of reality and my relationship to it.

When I am at work, I hand craft every element in the scene to materialize my emotional experience - a visualization of my inner self so to speak. Last but not least the centerpiece; a personification of myself in the form of a model. This completes a scene of my inner landscape. It is a theatrical description of my life story recorded in a form of photography.

It depends on the project but each stage takes approximately two or three months to complete. But sometimes it takes much longer.

I appear as the model in most cases, so my photographs also have the characteristics of a performance. When the set is complete, I take test shots of the stage. The final output is taken with a 4x5 large format film camera.

Once the scene is captured, the scene is completely demolished and my studio is empty once more. The process of destroying the scene that I created allows me to transcend my emotions. I analyze and observe myself from creation to destruction.

I am constantly pushing myself to grow as an artist. Sometimes it feels as if I am going through puberty again. I believe my effort to find identity as an artist is reflected in my work. My life will continue to change and so will the stage that I create. Because of this, the possibilities of Stage of Mind is infinite.”



Whereas traditional photography submits extracts of reality to our eyes, South Korean multidisciplinary artist JeeYoung LEE 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.

For weeks, sometimes months, she creates the fabric of a universe born from her mind within the confines of her 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 (2011), JeeYoung LEE is one the most promising up-and-rising figureheads of the younger Korean artistic world. Following the huge success of her first solo show, Stage of Mind, outside of Korea 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.). While she has created installations in major institutions all around the world, from San Francisco to Australia via Spain and Singapore, her photographs can be found in international public such as the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts' as well as in private collections around the world. 

JeeYoung LEE lives and works in Seoul.



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