Interview: Haerim Lee
Luca Curci talks with Haerim Lee during FUTURE LANDSCAPES, third appointment of BORDERS Art Fair 2020, at THE ROOM Contemporary Art Space.
Lee graduated from the MFA Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Painting and Drawing Department as well as MA Program at the Visual and Critical Studies. She has had solo shows at Gallery Noone (2017) and Kasia Kay Art Project (2012) in Chicago, and Youngeun Museum of Contemporary Art (2012) in South Korea. She participated in group shows including The Body (2010) as a part of the Chicago Humanities Festival, Out of Context (2019) at Chicago Artist Coalition, Korean Eye: 2020 (2019), Artists Run Chicago 2.0 (2020) at Hyde Park Art Center, and Young Eunji Keeps Memories: Consistently (2020) at Youngun Museum of Contemporary Art in S. Korea. She was awarded the Downtown Gary Public Art Competition from the Legacy Foundation (2017) as well as Make Together (2020) from the Hyde Park Art Center. She was a resident artist in Hatch Projects Residency at the Chicago Artist Coalition (2018) and a Center Program Artist at the Hyde Park Art Center (2018).
“I employ the medium of painting, public mural, artist book, and photography to enter into dialogue with a community in a particular place. My artist practice is research oriented-based on ethnographical research, investigating the history of an architectural site and using it as a raw material in my studio practice. My practice explores the critique of institutionalized demarcations of power. Originally from S. Korea where from the mono ethnic country, I am interested in racial dynamics, particularly in the South Side of Chicago where I am currently living in, my work poses a socio-political question – who has the authority to preserve and destroy history? The act editing, concealment, and obstruction of imagery create a subjective psychological space for history and memory”.
Luca Curci – What is art for you?
Haerim Lee – My art stimulates dialogue with communities through painting, public murals, artist books, and photography. My practice is rooted in ethnographical research and translating into in my studio practice. My practice critiques of institutionalized demarcations of power.
LC – What’s your background? What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
HL – My background is painting, heavily influenced by photorealism, especially I painted women figures from 2007-2014. However, since I moved to Chicago, my work investigates the place, space architecture, and bureaucrats. Originally from S. Korea, a mono ethnic country, I am interested in racial dynamics, particularly in the South Side of Chicago where I am currently living in the neighborhood with diverse ethnicities from different backgrounds and cultural heritage. Unlike homogenous culture, living in the particular environment helps her to learn other people’s stories and create a learning space together. Although it creates racial complexities, it challenges to think power dynamics and how to understand one another.
LC – What is the most challenging part about creating your artworks?
HL – The most challenging part of creating my artwork takes a long time to manifest. My work is less intuitive, which means I plan to create my work for a while and then start to manifest the work.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
HL – Being an artist nowadays is pretty fascinating, yet it can be challenging. Especially in this uncertain time, I think the virtual space is a powerful tool to connect with the world. I also think that presenting your work is also important, especially having an artist talk, strong argument, and good documentation.
LC – Which art themes do you pursue? What is your preferred subject, if there is any?
HL – My preferred subject is architecture, urban design, and figure painting.
LC – What do you think about the concept of this festival? How did it inspire you?
HL – The BORDERS Festival inspired me to think more about the physical boundary. We are living in this pandemic, and this subject matter is crucial to address. At the same time, I’ve been thinking about how the urban landscape can be as similar as the human body. Like the human body, the urban landscape is not permanent. It is temporal space, which is transformative.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the festival?
HL – Yes, I do. I do appreciate the concept of borders between the soul and the body, the human being and the city, the city and the ground.
LC – Would you suggest a collaboration with us? What do you think about our services?
HL – Yes! I do think that ITSLIQUID GROUP provides a lot of opportunities for artists. It a great platform where you can expose your work internationally.
LC – Do you think ITSLIQUID GROUP can represent an opportunity for artists?
HL – Yes, because ITSLIQUID GROUP shows in many different venues such as Venice and London, it generates more chances for artists.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
HL – Yes, I did. It is easy to communicate with a team which I do really enjoy. The BORDERS Festival was highly detailed, and a well-organized show that I feel so grateful to participate in.