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Meditation and Body of Light Series

Suwon Lee

The camera is a unique tool, an objective mechanism through which we can look at ourselves as in a mirror and freeze that image in time. Throughout my life, I have constantly faced the arbitrariness of successive social and cultural identifications and labels. Instead of confirming one identity over another, I seek to recognise in myself a fluid and limitless identity. Still, it is important for me to be able to say, ‘This is me’, to leave for the future an image that can say, ‘This is how I looked when I was alive, not through someone else's eyes, but through mine’, to say, ‘I existed’. It is not narcissism. It is a way of knowing myself, of seeing myself and accepting myself as I am. Because when you see yourself, you can rework and overcome anything.

Much of art and life as a woman is this struggle to accept and love ourselves and our bodies. Even the slimmest and most beautiful women in the world have trouble with self-image; we still feel trapped by the conventions of beauty and age that a patriarchal society has imposed on us. Our physical bodies are our vehicles in this life, but we are also made of subtle energy that runs through every cell.

This project distils all these concerns and consists of self-portraits made during lockdown in the intimate environment of my bedroom (Meditation and Body of Light Series). In Nude Descending a Staircase III, I am referring directly to Marcel Duchamp's iconic 20th-century painting. This time, a woman portrays herself walking down the stairs of an abandoned store in central Madrid during the peak days of COVID lockdown. As Duchamp said, ‘Since a three-dimensional object casts a two-dimensional shadow, we should be able to imagine the unknown four-dimensional object whose shadow we are’. This body of work is an attempt to glimpse that corporality that goes beyond the physical—to bring and use our body as an instrument to reveal light.

Finally, I want my work to encourage listening—to provide a boomerang observation. My hope is that whoever experiences it turns their attention to themselves in the same movement, like someone looking in a mirror.

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