Josephine Lee
Artist Bio

Josephine Lee (b.1987) is an interdisciplinary artist currently based in New York and Vancouver, Canada.

/born ignorant in an abyss of light (installation view), 2020
glass, plasma, porcelain, video
20' × 30'

Comprising cast and blown glass sculptures containing plasma, porcelain moon jars, and video, the work explores plasma, glass, and the moving image as a way of examining the home space as a destabilized energy field of ideological and social politics through the birth of the nuclear atomic bomb.

An interval between two points, 2019
glass, inkjet photo on cotton, wool, wood
4' × 4'

A series exploring the warping board, a weaver’s tool, as a tool to measure the psychic and physical distances between the homes that have been inhabited throughout Canada, the United States, and South Korea.

An interval between two points, 2019
glass, inkjet photo on cotton, wool, wood (detail)
4' × 4'

Wedding duck, 2019
brass, performance documentation (detail)
3" × 7"

Traditionally, a pair of handcarved ducks have been used in Korean wedding ceremonies, and are given as a gift for marriage. In this performance, one brass duck was machine-fabricated in Korea and hammered into a gallery wall until its beak held it in place. Documentation is only made of the resulting sculpture.

Think I Canada I Know I Canada, 2018
video performance (still)

The performance underscores the disjointed and oftentimes grammatically incorrect English of immigrant peoples and the fallacy of the title phrase in relation to identity and individuality. The performance reinforces the psychic and physical tensions of legibility, and confronts the tenuous nature of cultural and national belonging.

Link to video

neoltwiggi/seesaw, 2018
video performance (still)

The seesaw is cited to have been invented in the 17th century by young Korean women confined to their courtyards who used it as an acceptable form of recreation. The byproduct of this form of leisure was that it also acted as a means to see over their walls.

Link to video

What does listening sound like, 2017
performance (stills)

A sound work developed at documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany, throughout the summer of 2017 which culminated in a performance event at the Narrowcast House. The work comprised of a collaborative social performance of scores based on the question “What does listening sound like?” The resulting event and publication was archived in the documenta 14 library archives.

Signs for a reasonable protest, 2016
vinyl, aluminium
4 × 10'

Public artwork at the Waterfront Station, a historic rail station in the heart of downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The work was commissioned by Translink for the Canada Line Art Program. Placed in the location of billboard ads in the station, the signs reveal banal text seen during political and social demonstrations, examining the use of language, rallying signs, and the representation and formula of protests.

Haenyeo, 2017
4 × 9'

Echoing the vortex-like fishnets cast by “seawomen”, female divers, off the coastal waters of Jeju Island, South Korea, the structure of its open base considers the market economy of a disappearing traditional knowledge and the position of labor, territory, and global food production within cultural capital.

Hosanna, 2017
flowers, radio transmitter, electronics
15 × 10'

In April of 1992, riots erupted throughout the city of Los Angeles, spreading through South-Central Koreatown. The work takes on the name of the family flower shop in Los Angeles at the time of the riots, and points to an historical moment of deep immigrant trauma.

Artist Statement

Informed by a lifetime of movement throughout the United States, Canada, and South Korea, Josephine Lee’s sculptures, installations, and performances investigate the psychic impact of cultural assimilation and naturalization through migration. Framing her research on the constructs of home, Lee examines how notions of place are entangled within politics of citizenship and national identity. Within this context, Lee implicates her materials, objects, and gestures in narratives of race and nationalism as an antecedent to a deeper examination of the inadequacies of representation, the complications of overlapping histories, and the complexity of unfolding spaces of home and belonging.