Joceyn Lee: The Appearance of Things at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art
“The world enters our body via sensual portals: eyes, nose, ears, skin and nervous system, it is then translated by our brains into meaning and experience.” —Jocelyn Lee
Jocelyn Lee’s 10 year body of work, The Appearance of Things, opens at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockland, Maine on June 16th, running through October 14th, 2018 in the exhibition, Jocelyn Lee: The Appearance of Things. Lee’s “genre-bending work finds beauty in difficult places and seeks to explore and expand conventional definitions of female beauty. Her portraits are raw, honest, and rich in implied narrative, showing women both young and old situated within the natural landscape. Lee’s large-scale photographs are one-of-a-kind cinematic tableaux featuring multiple images, each striving to celebrate a multitude of sensual bodies: animals, plants, and human beings. Together, the series reflects on life’s transitions from birth through to death.
The Appearance of Things represents nearly a decade of work by Lee, and encompasses still life, portrait, and landscape photographs, as well as many images that fuse these genres. This mingling is partly what the work is about: creating a shift in perspective where a body (portrait) becomes a landscape; a still life becomes a portrait; and a landscape becomes a body”.
Jocelyn Lee was born in Naples, Italy and received her BA in philosophy and visual arts from Yale University, and her MFA in photography from Hunter College. In 2013 she received a NYFA Fellowship, and in 2001 she received a Guggenheim Fellowship. She is represented by Pace MacGill Gallery in New York, Flatland Gallery in Amsterdam and Huxley-Parlour in London.
Lee’s first monograph Nowhere but here was published by Steidl Publishers in December 2010 with a forward by Sharon Olds. In 1996 her work The Youngest Parents was published by DoubleTake Books and The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University in collaboration with Robert Coles and John Moses.
Her works are in the collections of Maison Europeen de la Photographie, Paris, France; The Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany; The Yale Museum of Art, New Haven, CT; The List Center at MIT, Cambridge, Mass.; The Portland Museum of Art; Portland, Maine; The Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City, MO.; The Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME; The Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; The Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME; The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, NC.; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.; The Bates College Museum of Art. Lewiston, ME; and The Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockport, ME.; as well as numerous private collections.
Her work has appeared in many national and international publications including The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, New York Magazine, Photo Raw (Helsinki, Finland), Snoeks (Germany), Real Simple, MORE magazine, PDN, Allegra (The Netherlands), DoubleTake, the Hayden Review, Marie Claire (Taiwan), Harpers and others.
Lee taught photography at Princeton University from 2003-2012 and at The Maine College of Art from 1993-2001. She has been a visiting artist at Yale University, Bowdoin College, Mass College of Art, and New York University.
Visible and mobile, my body is a thing among things; it’s caught in the fabric of the world, and its cohesion is that of a thing. But, because it moves itself and sees, it holds things in a circle around itself. Things are an annex or a prolongation of itself; they are incrusted into its flesh…the world is made of the same stuff as the body.– Maurice Merlau-Ponty, Eye and Mind
The world enters our body via sensual portals: eyes, nose, ears, skin and nervous system, it is then translated by our brains into meaning and experience.
The Appearance of Things attempts to access this tactile and optical experience and explores how we are enmeshed in an embodied and ephemeral world. All life, including our human form and being, passes through stages of birth, blossoming and death.
Life occupies environments – it makes itself at home, and enacts an arc of existence on this stage, be it a pond, a forest or a suburban home. Each image strives to celebrate a multitude of sensual bodies: animals, plants, and human beings. In many ways, the photographs are cabinets of wonder, echoing nineteenth century natural science’s fascination with the diversity of life.
The Appearance of Things encompasses still life, portrait, and landscape photographs, as well as many images that fuse these genres. This mingling is partly what the work is about: creating a shift in perspective where a body (portrait) becomes a landscape; a still life becomes a portrait; and a landscape becomes a body.
Printed at large scale and floating against a rich, dark background, the photographs beckon the viewer to a cinematic immersion in the image. The installation of the work as triptychs and diptychs juxtapose various bodies in divergent earthly environments and shift scale significantly across the images. The works are meant to engage the body of the viewer and become galaxies of their own through the use of space and the dilation and contraction of scale.
My hope is that the images will appear as if seen from the sky at night, the perspective from the deep space, looking down at illuminated stages of real magic occurring all over our extraordinary planet simultaneously.
Jocelyn Lee 2018
Posts on Lenscratch may not be reproduced without the permission of the Lenscratch staff and the photographer.
Lindsey Ross: Mushroom PeopleJuly 14th, 2022
Flowering in Photography: Margriet SmuldersMay 28th, 2022