Exercise – Nikki S. Lee

This section points out that photography is not always a true depiction of who we are, we can shape and mould our identities to fit a certain image, which may then be recorded by a camera.

Nikki S. Lee
For her ‘Projects’ this artist would observe the style and attitude of almost every group or stereotype out there and then she would incorporate herself into the group by dressing and speaking like them.  By playing different roles, Lee questions her own identity by transforming herself into other people’s identities. In an interview with The Creators Project (1) she says; “there is a Buddhist saying “I can be someone else and that someone else can be me as well.” Thoughts like this one – thoughts that cause you to view yourself in other people’s shoes – were my main focus, so the people play a significant role.”

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These photos are part of the ‘School girl project’, she dressed and actually went to school with these girls for a few days then she took the pictures.
I don’t get the sense that Lee is being voyeuristic or exploitative. More that she is inquisitive, curious to know what it’s like to be a part of another culture (Lee is an American of Korean origin).  She takes pictures of various groups of people that we see everyday and share our lives with, but we don’t really take the time to learn and experience that culture. Maybe it’s about being accepted whoever you are and where ever you hail from, she also proves the point that the camera does lie.

Tracey Moffat
Under the sign of Scorpio (2005)
“….at this stage I have told very few of the Scorpio women that I have included them in this photo series (I have met about eight of them). The last thing one should do is flatter a Scorpio; they immediately get suspicious, and depending on their mood, will hate your guts for it. It has taken me years to learn to graciously accept a compliment. Growing up in the rough-and-tumble Australian suburbs, I was often mocked for my escapes into fantasy.” 
I read this with intrigue. I am also interested in Astrology and studied the subject many years ago.  Moffatt, also a Scorpio, based herself in a simple studio at home and “dressed up” as other famous Scorpios. She makes it obvious that she is acting and her performance is intentionally very amateur. She says “In my portraits I have tried to capture their spirit and likeness, but only at a moment’s glance”.  She used informal poses and created a comic book quality by adding high-key supernatural coloured landscape backgrounds to the images in Photoshop. She chooses to represent her portraits as “pop figures” – she admired Andy Warhol – but with an air of the unexplained.

For a long time the Curie’s efforts failed, but Marie had a type of psychic vision and kept repeating “it’s got to be there, I know it is there”. Marie can be viewed as a sort of acceptable turn-of-the-century scientific witch. She helped to find something that had never been seen before because she somehow believed that it was ‘there’.

For a long time the Curie’s efforts failed, but Marie had a type of psychic vision and kept repeating “it’s got to be there, I know it is there”. Marie can be viewed as a sort of acceptable turn-of-the-century scientific witch. She helped to find something that had never been seen before because she somehow believed that it was ‘there’.

I particularly like the contact sheet presentations where the viewer is able to follow the progress of the “performance” before Moffatt selects a pose to use. The added colourful backgrounds of her images really do portray an astral feel.

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In this series Moffat does not reveal anything of herself to the viewer. So for me the title Masquerades is relevant – masked to hide the true identity. These are self-portraits that can be used to examine cultural differences, identity, fantasy and the many ways in which a person can be (or wants to be) represented.

References
Nikki S. Lee http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/videos/nikki-s-lee [accessed 14th Sept 2016]
Tracey Moffatt http://www.roslynoxley9.com.au/news/releases/2005/07/10/94/ [accessed 14th sept 2016]

 

 

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Exercise 2 – Recreating a childhood memory

This exercise is timely in that my previous assignment was based on memory (post memory) and I have therefore read and researched a great deal on the subject. I have also found myself reflecting back to my childhood of late – an age thing! I am someone who likes to recall happy family times, because it is summer I am mostly recalling beach and caravan holidays. However, I think that will probably be a popular choice for students so I have considered a number of alternative ideas for this exercise.

  • School days – not my favourite subject.
  • Playing with my dolls – great memories!
  • Family gatherings and special occasions
  • Roller skating
  • Beach and rock pools
  • Caravan holidays
  • Playing with friends – garden, parks, playing fields

Whilst shooting my last assignment I visited an area where my Mum lived for a couple of years as a refugee from Czechoslovakia. Because this location is fairly local and a popular beauty spot, we often go there. Next to the hall and grounds is a huge playing field, now used for cricket matches mainly. Lurking to one side of the field is an original playground roundabout – still in good working order! This always gives me flash backs to my childhood, I loved the local park and playground. So my subject is chosen.

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Thinking about the projects I have just completed, I pondered over whether to be present or absent in the photograph. I decided not to use a metaphor in this instance – difficult to portray, so I settled on including my adult self in the shot. I set up the tripod and with the use of a remote shutter release clicked away merrily.
For a few shots I set up the tripod and camera on the roundabout – asking my poor husband to run around with the roundabout to hold on to the tripod! This was to create the effect of me being in focus and the background blurred to represent spinning.

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I like this image of me looking on at the roundabout, watching with some uncertainty.
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This prompted me to present a series in sequence – following the way I would have approached it as a child. I always observed first to check for safety and courage… then go for it. It was always a mixture of comfort and dread when others joined the ride – it would either be safety in numbers or dare devils spinning it too fast so I couldn’t jump off!

 

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I showed these images to friends and to my brother and sister, they all related back to their younger days of playing in the park. The images conjured up the feeling of carefree days, adventure, freedom and worry-free times. Which is exactly what they were for me too.