THE KOREA PROJECT
This ongoing project is in part an exploration of the cultural relationship between Korea and Australia and the ways in which Korean migrants establish a sense of belonging in a new country.
My intentions are two-fold in that it tells a personal story but also a common one. I was raised in Australia by my Korean mother who migrated here, after marrying my Australian father, in the early 1970s. As a Korean-Australian, I have straddled two worlds, yet in many ways, belonged to neither. I am fascinated by this tension in identity and how the merging of two cultures can shape one’s experiences and perspectives of the world.
By re-tracing my mother’s move to Australia as a symbolic journey – one shared by many other Korean migrants – I hope to tell a broader story of migration by documenting the Korean diaspora in Australia: how their lives have been affected as a result of relocation; how a sense of Korean community has been established and further, how personal relations in Australia – such as inter-marriage – have yielded a new or changed sense of identity. I am also exploring through a series of portraits, how Korean-Australians (such as myself) continue to negotiate their heritage and affiliation to two very different cultures.
This project also traces my own experiences in Korea, searching for my heritage and my mother’s culture and considers how contemporary Korean culture in the 21st century has negotiated its traditional past with both its globalised present and future.
Lee is a documentary photographer who lives and works in Canberra. She holds a degree in Anthropology and in 2010 completed a Master of Philosophy (Visual Arts) at the ANU School of Art. Lee has exhibited in numerous galleries throughout Australia and her work is held in both private and public collections, including the National Library of Australia and the Canberra Museum and Art Gallery. She has been a recipient of several grants and has been a finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize, the Head On Alternative Portrait Prize, the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Prize, the Olive Cotton Award, Critical Mass 09 and Sony/ACMP’s The Projections 09 (which she won). Lee was also the winner of the prestigious Bowness Photography Prize in 2010.
In 2012, Lee published her first book, Belco Pride. A selection of her work was also published in 10×100 as well as the Big City Press monograph Hijacked Volume 2: Australia and Germany. Lee is the co-founder of both Light Journeys and Timemachine Magazine and in 2012, Lee joined the Australian photo-collective, Oculi. She is represented by Edmund Pearce Gallery in Melbourne. To see more of Lee’s artwork visit www.thekoreaproject.com.au and her website.