CAN Exercise 3.2 Lee and Morrissey


  • Could Lee’s work be considered voyeuristic or even exploitative?
  • Is she commenting on her own identity, the group identity of the people she photographs, or both?
  • Would you agree to Morrissey’s request if you were enjoying a day on the beach with your family? If not, why not?
  • Morrissey uses self-portraiture in more of her work, namely Seven and The Failed Realist. Look at these projects online and make some notes in your learning log.

Nikki S. Lee

The Korean artist Nikki S. Lee is known for her 1990s identity shifting projects involving such American subcultures as Hispanics, Hip Hop, lesbians, tourists, exotic dancers, punks and old ladies.

Popular though they may be, viewing Lee’s work through the cultural lens of 2019 now seems uncomfortable. Why?

In an interview for INNERview, Lee describes how she went about assuming the identities of the subcultures involved (Lee, 2013)

  • The Hispanic project involved putting on weight. Should Hispanic women be represented as heavier than Korean women?
  • The exotic dancer project involved losing weight. So a woman has to be thin to be sexually attractive?
  • The Hip Hop project involved darkening her skin. What has the colour of one’s skin got to do with anything?
Nikki S. Lee The Hip Hop project

These are important issues. To represent cultural stereotypes in this way in the name of Art is, to me, no longer acceptable.

Trish Morrissey

  • Front

Trish Morrissey invited herself into family groups camped out on beaches in the UK and Australia. Having swapped places with (generally) the mother of the group, and donned an item of her clothes, the displaced mother then photographed the group. Looking at the pictures, one thing that certainly strikes me is that all the participants seem to be thoroughly enjoying the experience. That doesn’t surprise me as Morrissey comes across as a delightful lady. And on that basis, I’m pretty sure I would agree to Morrissey’s request

Hayley Coles, June 17th, 2006 (Morrissey, 2006)
  • The Failed Realist

In this series, Morrissey explores the inability of young children to visually depict ideas due to their underdeveloped motor, cognitive and graphic skills. Morrissey’s young daughter face paints her mother, who then captures the immature face paintings on camera, thereby using her self-portrait to create a delightful series recording the development of her child.

Ladybird (2011) (Morrissey, 2011)


Lee, N. (2013). INNERview Ep65 Who Am I? The artist drawing attention in NY – Nikki S. Lee. Available at: [Accessed 25 Nov. 2019].

Morrissey, T. (2006). Hayley Coles, June 17th, 2006. [image] Available at: [Accessed 25 Nov. 2019].

Morrissey, T. (2011). Ladybird (2011). [image] Available at: [Accessed 25 Nov. 2019].

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