Painstakingly printed onto hanji paper – a traditional Korean handmade material –, Jungjin Lee's (1961, Daegu, South Korea) photographs invite prolonged study, in stark contrast to the instant consumption of photographic images that has become hegemonic in contemporary media. Her large-scale images are defined as much by their subjects as by the way the black and white film grain merges with the dense paper, resulting in a richness of visual and tactile information that is rare in contemporary photography. While studying ceramic at the college, she had self-taught photography as well. She studied photography after she moved to the United States in 1988. It was during this time that she developed her printing method, while she wandered the American deserts over five years, resulting in the series The American Desert (1989-1994). Since then, the artist has developed a unique reflection on time and landscape in photography.
Voice (2018-19) is one of the more recent results of that reflection, in which images and sensations meet, without words or discourse. In the series as a whole, and especially in the four photographs presented at the 34th Bienal, the landscapes photographed seem to be arranged according to the framing, as if they molded themselves according to the limit of the photographic field. This characteristic, added to the density of the graphic textures and the synthetic clarity of the compositions, makes each photograph a complex, yet silent, visual phenomenon.
In the series Buddha (2002), Jungjin Lee took a collection of portraits of Buddhist statues in Thailand. The artifacts have accumulated the marks of time and are poised between maintaining their recognizable form and merging into their setting. They could be treated as crumbling ruins, but the artist chooses instead to contribute to restoring their sense of the eternity after life. To this end, she captures a frontal view of each silhouette and transfers it onto the handmade paper, onto which she then manually applies photosensitive emulsion and begins the enlargement process, allowing her to emphasize and transform the light, contrasts, and textures registered by the photographic film.
Caroline A. Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).