Hye-Ryoung Min: Yeonsoo
Earlier this year, I selected the above image for an Honorable Mention in The Family Exhibition at the Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography. The photograph has a quality of domestic narrative, of light, color and mood that drew me in. I was delighted to discover it was a image by South Korean born photographer, Hye-Ryoung Min. I have/had been a fan of her work and featured her terrific series, Channel 247 on Lenscratch last year, a project that received top spot in the 2012 Conscientious Portfolio Competition. She now lives and works in New York City and has a busy career as an editorial and fine art photographer. The project that I am featuring, Yeonsoo, is a thoughtful chronicle of the evolution of her niece, but also a reflection of herself. Small moments of exploration, of working though characters, and simply being in the world, add up to a wonderful look at childhood.Her projects, have been exhibited at Gallery LUX and Gallery Comma in Korea, and the School of Visual Arts Gallery in NY. And also it has been featured in an En Foco exhibition, “The Changing World” by Michael Foley in NY. She got a Portfolio Award of Seoul Photo Festival 2011 and exhibited in Seoul Museum of Art. In 2012, she got the 3rd prize of ‘image 12′ ASMP NY and showed the work from series at the winner’s exhibition.
In Korea we have a saying: ‘naughty 7 years old’. We think a child of six orseven is at their most mischievous, which is when I started photographing my niece, Yeonsoo.
Every kid is special but she was simplythe most impressionable and sensitive girl and it made me want to look at her more closely.
This process of observation required much delicate care. It was a fragile journey to the life and heart of a most unpredictable and sensitive girl, intoher relationship with those around her: her family and friends –although they remain unseen in the photographs- and also to my own childhood. It came as asurprise for me to see how the little girl managed to express herself and react to the world. It took a while for me to understand that a kid has a character that hasn’t settled down yet, so she can be the sweetest girl at one moment and yet bitter or outrageous in the next. Her experience of the worldis very limited by her young age, so that my sister is at once Yeonsoo’sbest-loved compa
nion and her biggest rival. And yet, a kid’s imagination is unlimited; they can be anybody they want to be.
Nowadays, Yeonsoo is going to school. I knew that the stage of being 7 years old would not last long. A period of transition was inevitable, which means moving from the family setting to the society of school. She has started learning how to live with others, and this has brought much laughter and tears as well. Young kids are like very soft clay or sponges, which become harder as they find their direction. It is how we learn to find our way inlife. What I didn’t want to miss werethese fragile moments of being a littlegirl, which all women went through.
Beyond my interest in her, there is also a reciprocal relationship betweenus. Looking at her, I often felt as if I was looking at myself as a child. It allowed me to meditate about how I came to be the woman I am today, and indeed what sort of person I’ve become.
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