The ways that people endeavour
Lee Grant is many things. Photographer, mother, businesswoman, philosopher, horticulturalist, Korean-Australian, anthropologist… Resoundingly, one of the words continuously used to describe Lee is honest. She will tell you what she thinks. Avoid eye contact and back away slowly if you aren’t in for the truth.
This honesty is also very apparent in her photographic works. Her preferred portrait is an unsmiling one reminiscent of the soviet era that captures the true feeling of her subject at the time of taking – pride, fear, uncertainty, hope.
Her scene photography is in much the same vein, she shows the beauty in the mundane – a cheap Chinese takeaway restaurant, a crackly wall, a bunch of pot plants, a creepy looking children’s ride in the middle of nowhere.
Lee’s photography is different in that many photographers will create a scene that looks good or makes you feel a certain way. Lee’s method is not one of creation per se, but rather an excavation. It is with an ethnographic lens (sorry, I couldn’t help the pun) that she focuses (I can’t stop call the pun police) on her subjects, and delicately deconstructs the human condition, the signs, symbols, rituals and behaviours that make up the culture created by each individual and in each space. What interests her is the way and what that people endeavour.
Her themes have included newly arrived Sudanese families in Australia, office life, an ongoing Chinese takeaway series, a series on Belconnen (one of Canberra’s scrappier suburbs) and sister love.
With this obvious love for humanity, it is no surprise that she was recently given the position of NewActon Artist in Residence. (Just a reminder for those folk that don’t always read this blog blog; New Acton is the Canberra precinct in which Hotel Hotel will live happily ever after).
Her task has been to look at and document what is behind the building of a precinct and the elements that go into the transformation of that space. The project has seen her photographing construction workers, artists, café owners, bike makers, concrete walls, office people, cyclists, dog walkers, apartment dwellers, designers, carpenters…you get the idea.
One of the things I love about Lee is her eternal enthusiasm and her passion for sharing. Her projects Time Machine and Light Journeys have come from wanting to share her experience as a photographer and giving others a platform from which to do the same.
THE KOREA PROJECT