Excercise 3.2 – Part 3 / Project 2 summary

I have already made extensive comments on Nikki S. Lee’s Projects series in my research notes about her work (link). Just to expand briefly on the comments I made in my original notes, I find that Lee’s work in Projects is not a commentary on identity, but more like a study on performance (more specifically, on Lee’s ability to “perform” as if she was a member of each of the groups she infiltrated). There is no evidence that Lee has made these performances for any other reason other than to show she could do it, just like a method actor could indeed learn how to live like the character being played. Photography as a medium is ill-suited for us to know if parts of Lee’s real identity have permeated the characters she played. Hence, it is hard to imagine this series, in which she “transformed” into personas she clearly cannot be (she can never become Hispanic or Japanese for instance), as being an honest exploration of her identity.

I have also made notes on Trish Morrisey’s work separately (link), including my views on her series Front and The Failed Realist. If I were approached by Morrisey to participate in Front, I would probably decline. Many times throughout our lives we have been approached by people telling us stories to obtain something in return. Some of them are true, others are just a con. While our default position is to trust, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell one from the other. Our views of others are hardening, perhaps because our perception of the world around us is also hardening, often without reason. It is a sad indictment, but I think it would be too much to ask a total stranger to swap clothes, even for the sake of good art.



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