Paul Greenfield MFA, ARPS

Nikki Lee (1970)

The Hip Hop Project (2), 2001

Nikki Seung-hee Lee (born 1970) is a visual artist based in Kye-Chang, South Korea, now living and working in New York City. Her works surround the fields of photography and film. Her work is informed by 'Asian notions of identity, where identity is not a static set of traits belonging to an individual, but something constantly changing and defined through relationships with other people.'

Lee's most noted work, Projects (1997–2001), begun while still in school as a graduation requirement, depicts her in snapshot photographs in which she poses with drag queens, punks, swing dancers, senior citizens, Latinos, hip-hop musicians and fans, skateboarders, lesbians, young urban professionals, and Korean schoolgirls. She immerses herself into each American subculture and created an identity that is an extension of herself. With a simple point-and-shoot camera, she asked the selected group or passerby to record her.[5] Lee conceives of her work as less about creating beautiful pictures and more about investigating notions of identity and the uses of vernacular photography.[6] Lee would select a subculture, research it, and adopt the clothing, customs, and mannerisms of the group. Then, Lee would tell a group of members of the subculture about Projects and ask if she could “hang out” with them. After three or more months, Lee would ask either a friend, a member of the group or a stranger to take a picture of her with the group.
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