Photography Reviews

Two People – Sean Lee

Photography can of course be about documenting what’s in front of us, the pslit moment that happened right in front of our eyes, but it can also serve as a medium to create spaces for conversations, for connections for intimacy.

Two people is an ongoing body of photographic work by Singapore photographer Sean Lee as part of his artistic oeuvre exploring the theme of family and kinship in an Asian context. Lee used photography as a device for breaking the silence in understanding his family better. The number ‘two’ is of particular significance to him as it represents a symbiotic partnership bound by love but also fraught with tension.

© Sean Lee, from the series ‘Two People’; Source @ Landscape Stories

In an interview with Landscape Stories magazine, he described “I have been routinely choreographing performances and situations between my father, my mother, and me, since 2010. I used to think I knew what I was doing with the making of these images, but as time passed I became less certain. At times they seem to speak to me about the dreams and nightmares of childhood. Most of the time, however, they make me wonder about the strangeness of being a human organism and the mystery of being a family, of being a part of a lineage. I continue to photograph my parents because they are the only people who occur to me without my own choosing.”

The work focuses on the relationship between his parents to explore larger themes of love, tension, interdependency and sacrifice. Tentative and moving, these gentle frames of domestic life beckon at us to slow down and contemplate upon the concept of family and ephemeral nature of existence.

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Photography Reviews

Mundane – Salma Abedin Prithi

Bangladesh artist, Salma Abedin Prithi, looks into the gruesome and dehumanising social violence that occurs on the everyday newspaper such as a man is beaten by his neighbours after complaining their music is too loud. A mother is murdered by a local mob suspecting her of kidnapping while she visits a school to inquire about admissions. A child is lynched by thirteen men after being accused of stealing a bicycle.

She stages these stories with her friends and family to reconstruct the psychological experience there was with beautiful harsh black and white staged images. The performative space created between the artist and the actor/ress allows improvisation to push further the participatory act of the actor’s interpretation of the story which are captured and emotionally felt by audience when looking through the images.

In an interview with Lensculture, she described, “The performances in my photographs were quite organic as I did not arrange any rehearsal, script, storyboard, or any other illustration. I need an intimate environment, and preferably accidental moments, to explore the unexpected, which often works better than a planned approach.”

© Salma Abedin Prithi, from the series ‘Mundane’; Source @ Salma Abedin Prithi

Prithi has created a body of work made up of nearly fifty images, split into two distinct streams that work in conversation with one another. Black and white photographs, harshly lit and capriciously surreal are paired with waxed photographs extracted from newspapers, collaged with textual erasures, sourced from the same. She explained that, “many of my photos are taken inside the same room, as these real events were connected to a common place and its morphology. Secondly, I tried to transform real newspaper photos and texts to an ambiguous poetry on such violence, to protest against the mundanity of everyday news.” 

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Photography Reviews

Finger Play – Jinhee Kim

Awarded excellent for The Reference Asia photo prize, Korean artist Jinhee Kim‘s Finger Play series explores her own relationships with others and society using her distinctive technique of finely embroidering photographs.

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© Jinhee Kim, from the series ‘Finger Play’; Source @ The Reference Asia

In the interview by The Reference Asia, the project birthed as a result of her body reaction to embroidering. She discovered she developed pompholyx, which caused blisters on her hands and feet. The blisters that she repeatedly got made her quite embarrassed and began thinking about contexts of the hand, which is one of the body parts most exposed to others, in a personal level and a social level.

“I started wondering why my rough hands embarrassed me. That made me start collecting images of hands generally considered ideal, which I saw on media…

…media instill stereotypes in people. Advertisements and magazines put emphasis on creating an image that resonates with a large audience. Especially, advertising images are both what a common recognition within a group creates, and what the recognition is created based on…

…while these images are unnaturally exaggerated, no one would think they are further from everyday life. They imprint the impression that these are the feminine, clean, beautiful hands in the audience’s mind.”

Other than adopting the traditional form of embroidery photographs by using found images of “ideal” female hands from media and advertisement, she developed the work further by photographing female hands sticking out of holes on printed materials and playing with the threads.

One of the jurors Gwen Lee commented, “Jinhee’s works Finger Play conjured up images of Dutch painter Juan Sanchez Cotan’s still life paintings. Instead of cabbage and apples, we see anonymous hands entering into panel of images (realities), connected by threads into subliminal realities. The illusion created through the layer of printed images (cut out images of hands from the magazine), embroidery, and hands hold an aura that is both eternal or disturbing.”

 

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