Jinwoo Hwon Lee

Jinwoo Hwon Lee

Work from Tell Them I said Hello.

“I was 19, when I came back by myself to the United States since being a toddler.

I did not speak what everyone spoke. I knew no one. People in the small town noticed me by my color. Koreans born and raised in America thought I was too ‘Korean’. People back home thought I was too ‘American’. I was neither one of us nor one of them.

The physical and emotional distance between two homes never resolved. However, learning to cope with a sense of alienation enabled me to see others undergo their own.

The eclectic black and white photographs in this series reflect such emotions. No images in the series fully show a face of a person. Despite taken by the same photographer, no images were taken in the same locations. This signifies the scattered identity and also metaphors the perceptions created both inside and outside. As a citizen and as an immigrant, I never felt fully understood or wholeheartedly considered. Some nuances were always dismissed.

The seemingly disjointed objects and people in the series portray the alienated in different settings. The loose strings among the photographs, as metaphors and firsthand testimonies, invite viewers to imagine their own context of alienation. Despite its disparity, true subject of the series reaches the struggles experienced as the vulnerable; the rejected; and the departed from and within.

This body of work is part of the ongoing ‘Poem-ography’ series, in which both poetry and photography are realized in one medium – regardless of presence of text.” – Jinwoo Hwon Lee

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