For the Japanese American musician named Nikki Lee, see Nikki (singer).
Nikki Seung-hee Lee (born 1970) is a Korean photographer and filmmaker formerly based in New York City, now living and working in Seoul.
After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Chung-Ang University in South Korea in 1993, she moved to New York in 1994 to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. She earned her Master of Arts in photography at New York University in 1998.
Lee's most noted work, Projects (1997-2001), begun while still in school, depicts her in snapshot photographs, in which she poses with various ethnic and social groups, including 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 sub-cultures and creates an identity that is an extension of herself. With a simple point-and-shoot camera, she asks the selected group or passerby to record her. Lee conceives of her work as less about creating beautiful pictures, and more about investigating notions of identity and the uses of vernacular photography. Lee has stated that the project was one of her graduation requirements.
In 1999 Lee's first solo exhibition took place at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects, New York which was her exclusive representative from 1998 through the fall of 2007.
A more recent series by Lee, entitled Parts (2002-2005) features images of Lee posing in different settings with a male partner, cropped to make it impossible to directly see who she is with.
In 2006 Lee released a film, A.K.A. Nikki S. Lee. The project, described as a "conceptual documentary," alternates segments presenting Lee as two distinct personalities, a reserved academic and an outgoing socialite. It had its premiere at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, October 5-7, 2006.
Lee has had solo exhibitions of her work at major international institutions including the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City. Her works are in the collections of major museums, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Fukuoka, Japan; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Writing on Lee's work have appeared in many magazines, newspapers, and journals including Artforum, Art in America, Art Journal, and the New York Times. Two monographs on Lee's work have been published: Nikki S. Lee: Parts. by RoseLee Goldberg and Nikki S. Lee: Projects. essays by Russell Ferguson and Gilbert Vicario .
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