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Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Parallel event MANIFESTA 9
HOTEL DE INMIGRANTES - Cosmopolitan Stranger

Curators: Tomasz Wendland, Koen Vanmechelen
Co-curators: Denise Carvalho, Juraj Carny

Opening 17:00 o'clock
02 JUN 2012

at Open University of Diversity, OpUnDi
Armand Hertzstraat 35
Hasselt, Belgium

JaeWook Lee's project, Perfect Lovers, redirects the given meaning of Felix Gonzalez-Torres' artwork done with clocks from the gender issue of homosexuality to cultural and political homologization by the issues of power between the U.S. Army and other nations.
For his performance, it entails two people holding identical clocks in the exhibition space. One of the performers will be dressed in the U.S. Army uniform, and will be standing and marching with another performer from different nationality.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The perfect lovers

The perfect lovers

The perfect lovers(US Army in Korea l NYC)
HD 1440 x480(video)
Two-channel video
7:00 min

  The perfect lovers 2011 is a performance-based video which redirects the given meaning of Felix Gonzalez-Torres' art historical objects from the gender issue of homosexuality to cultural homologization in a geo-political situation between Korea and the United States. The video projection splits along a vertical axis into two frames. Each frames show myself holding a wall-clock in two different locations, one is near a U.S. Army base in Korea and the other is in New York City. As in the Gonzalez-Torres work, two identical clocks are put together along the vertical line, at once separating and joining, partitioning and linking, dividing and connecting the multiple locations, here functioning as a metaphor of an ambivalent military relationship between the two nations.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

"All men are created equal"

JaeWook Lee’s All men are created equal Bullshit (2011) consists of two slide projections of the artist transporting water through his mouth, from shore to river to ground, as he writes Thomas Jefferson’s immortal phrase, “All men are created equal” - to which he adds: bullshit. The artist’s laborious action appears absurd in light of New York City’s shoreline of majestic skyscrapers, emblematic of the overdeveloped city in contrast to the potent struggle of the masses against neo-liberal capitalism. The action blurs distinctions between the experience of art, the art object and the space of art, challenging the city’s control of art in the public space. The fact that the work was written with water also leads to the ephemeral nature of the work, just as contemporary art becomes obsolescent in its organic integration with media culture. Moreover, Lee’s work repeats processes of generating and destroying symbols that are removed from art, reminding us of our aesthetic nature that creates and transforms through beauty and crisis. - Denise Carvalho

Monday, June 20, 2011

The memory of Korean War

The memory of Korean War is a single-channel video. I created a gun-projector that I altered a beam-projector by attaching a M16 BB gun with 100m electrical wire. The projector becomes movable so that the performer can take it out. The performer in this video shoot the images of bombs on smoke and moving trains at night. The reflected images are the historical bomb-drop done by U.S. army during Korean War. The images with the memory of war soon disappear as the smoke evaporates.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sometimes history becomes present.

Range <Anticipated Installation View>

Sometimes history becomes present (2011) is a series of photographic documents in which JaeWook Lee put a blank transparent sheet on a window pane. The artist captured a smoke beyond the window within the transparent sheet by his camera, and he took another picture of the smoke spread out into the air beyond the outline of the transparent sheet. He changed the color of the first picture resembling to a yellowish old, fainted war photograph. The slight intervention what JaeWook Lee did on window reminds the historical bombardment during the Korean War as well as a current tension between North Korea and South Korea, even though the smoke was a simple fire in a construction site.
Sometimes history becomes present (2011) exists in two parts: the first part is a series of photographic documents of window installations and the second is an installation in which the photographic documents are projected from a cannon-like slide projector alongside with bullet-like balls the artist designed. The artist call this device cannon-projector.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Big Seoul (1971)

Big Seoul (1971)

Big Seoul, Video 1:27", 2011

'Big Seoul 1971' 
Jun, Se Young (Curator, PYO gallery)

 JaeWook Lee's works are based on a hidden reality and history, and a beautiful inner side of the city, which are shown as a twofold connection. He overlaps images of a misfortune within the glamour of the city and images of destroyed or unbeautiful elements to a present image of the city. The city, which is now much fancier and bigger than before, brings out paradoxical senses.

This exhibition 'Big Seoul 1971' was inspired by a poet Kwang Seop Kim, who wrote 'Big Seoul' in 1971. The works send out a message to recollect our Seoul. Now that Seoul is turning into a materialistic and visual place day by day after the rapid change from 1950 to 1960, the city has lost a true meaning of existence.
JaeWook Lee produces film-stickers of ordinary sceneries with Han River as the center. A beautiful night view and wealthiness of the present city project memories and history of Seoul. These works are actually an extension of former series 'Beautiful'. The last series has shown truths that are on a knife edge by visualizing many incidents and informations.

Images of ladies doing laundry with laundry bats, a water carrier with water pitcher, children skating and sleighing on a surface of frozen river, and old sceneries of Han River are pinned on a highway road. These two different images wander voidly between the past and the present and they flutter lightly inside our memories like a thin transparent film.
The refugees' lives with Han River as the center after the war became the center fo culture and life in 1950s. The new 'Seoul' that JaeWook Lee combinates with the others remind us of the fading memories and pain that are hidden under the glamourousness of the present city.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Korea in the modern era

2010 Public Art Project
A site-specific practice commissioned by Hyundai-Motor and PYO gallery. 
Korea in the modern era
JaeWook Lee created a line which is made up of the images of old Korean cars in the modern era(70s to early 90s), overlaping with the real cars in Hyundai-Motors' store. It shows both the historical modernization and on-going global capitalistic development in Korea.

JaeWook put translucent films on the window panes of Hyundai-Motors' car store.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Beautiful, 150 X 100cm, c-print, 2009

Beautiful, 100 X 130cm, c-print, 2009

Inviting the spectacle of a city. - Artist JaeWook Lee
Park Woo Jin, Journalist HanKook Weekly Megazine
You can easily get lost in a city. It is not just because of its width and intricacy. There are eye-catching scenes in every direction and the ironies among them are neglected due to the swift progression of the scenes. In the back alleys of magnificent skyscrapers, incidents occur every day and the state-of-art media makes the cruelty of the incidents into a sheer spectacle. Living in a city means to experience, bear, and enjoy such visual impacts and ultimately become numb to the impacts due to the alienation and continuance; having willingness and possibility to understand and judge the source and the ironic mechanism of the scenes lost.

Photographer Lee, JaeWook was also trapped in a maze, when he visited Shanghai. Being overwhelmed by the splendid view, he went into a room of the world’s tallest hotel. On TV, atrocities in Afghanistan were being broadcasted. The sharp contrast between the two events made him dizzy and the concurrence was befuddling.

It was the beginning of his theme, with the subject of a city, incorporating explosions and screaming objects. On the picture of Shanghai Grand Hyatt Hotel’s interior, which is the starting point of his series of work, he carves in brilliantly exploding fragments; for the picture of Seoul’s night view, he dots the picture with the images of a wailing mother who has lost children on a battlefield. The energy created by the conflicting two images is immense. The photographer gathered these pieces of work and displayed under the title of “Beautiful” at the Seoul Kunstdoc Project Space until the last 9th.
“I hope this work to be something that audience are fascinated at first sight and feel the wonder, but little by little, start to question the justification of the beauty they witness.”
Thus, Photographer Lee JaeWook’s work is like the mouth of a deep cavern: strangely enticing people into looking inside, but too frightening. It is because the cause-and-effect relationship, which shows there’s a cost for beauty, is expressed in a rarely frank way. It is an impressive question or Ariadne's yarn, about how much violence and destruction are conducted and simultaneously hidden, in order to construct the “face” like a city.


Beauty can be sad, sadness can be beautiful.

Beautiful, 180 X 50cm, c-print, 2008

Beautiful, 150 X 80cm, c-print, 2008

Untitled, 100 X 80cm, Water Coler on Paper, 2008

Wow, 6m X 4m, Film Stickers on Window pane, 2009
Installaion on MOA, Seoul National University

A Look at the City – Disquieting Truths at SEO Gallery

Beauty can be sad, sadness can be beautiful.

Seoul Night Films Stickers, 150 X 100cm, c-print, 2008

Seoul Daytime Films Stickers, 150 X 100cm, c-print, 2008

A Look at the City – Disquieting Truths
By Kim Mi-jin, Exhibition Director of Seoul Arts Center Hangaram Art Museum & Associate Professor of Hongik University Graduate School
This exhibition aims to shed light on both the interior and exterior scenes of a city that we face in our daily lives through works of two artists, Kim Hong-shik and JaeWook Lee. They both work using different mediums, but address the same subject. After making film stickers with disaster scenes from news found in cyberspace, JaeWook Lee cuts them out and puts them up real windows, finally taking photographs of the resulting day and night scenes. The stickers are put up and photographed, but soon removed from the window and again compiled with a new set of photographs. Lee contrasts popular news images made of thin, transparent stickers with the unified, coercive, yet convenient and beautiful view of the cityscape.

In contrast, Kim Hong-shik prints common street scenes, signs, and monumental buildings on stainless steel plates in an achromatic gray tone. Stainless steel, a medium symbolic of the present age, and fleeting, lighthearted scenes reflect the senselessness of cotemporary people’s everyday life. Kim makes these photographic films on stainless steel using a method of photo etching and completes the work by grinding or through silk-screening.
The two artists have something in common in that they both work with digital photographs of cities or daily living spaces that they have experienced in person and appropriated. With the commencement of human civilization, cities have been constructed and have played a crucial role in bringing about social values and power structures. The city produces the myriad of the aspects of our lives such as labor, commodities, the masses, transportation, medicine, and architecture, offering us hope, delightfulness, sumptuousness, and convenience, and on the other hand, alienation, unfairness, ostentation, barbarity, and violence. In today’s digital era, a modern city incessantly produces, circulates, and consumes new symbols and signs. Within luxurious downtown areas, new slums are created and the city outwardly expands to create other urban spaces like the so-called ‘new towns’ or ‘new cities.’
The film Metropolis, produced in 1927, addressed the confrontation between the elite and the working class and their contrasting work and living spaces, making a bold prediction about the future. The mass media today produces a huge amount of information about violence, crime, and traffic accidents each and every moment, making us believe that our cities are no longer safe. Kim Hong-shik expresses the various aspects of a city with his technique using lenticular lenses. The spaces he presents are quite sensual with their flamboyant colors and dueling images. Prohibition signs in the city scenes convey the paradox that something that can be so pervasive in our daily life can also be banned or illegal.
JaeWook Lee intends to represent materially abundant and happy daily life with sumptuous icons and star-like images over the background of the beautiful light of the Han River. The motive of each image, however, is appropriated from disaster scenes from digitalized cyberspace. We embrace daily disaster news and scenes as part of our everyday life, often considering them as trivial. Lee’s Beautiful seems like disposable, lighthearted, and pleasant, but also carries a subversive message. This seductive fantasy was created at the cost of the devastation of nature, inner self, and spirit. Lee builds up both real and imaginary spaces with these images of disasters and accidents. Like matter and the soul, the relationship between the beauty of a city and its natural disasters seen through his work urges the viewers to take a closer look at our daily lives.
Deconstructed images appear as dead birds and flowers which are not flying freely but look like gloomy plastic lumps. Networking the combination and deconstruction of space and time, Lee expects them to be communicable like freely flying birds. Through this exhibition, Kim Hong-shik and JaeWook Lee depict the city surrounding them by experimenting with new mediums and watch disquieting truths of our time with the acute eyes.