We've got the sun under our skin

Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee | Het Parool

You must see these new works on Unseen

Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee ,   Like watermarks, from the series We've got the sun under our skin , 2019, Archive pigment print, 40cm x 32cm, Ed 3 + 1AP

Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee, Like watermarks, from the series We've got the sun under our skin, 2019, Archive pigment print, 40cm x 32cm, Ed 3 + 1AP

At Unseen, Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee shows work from two projects on which she has worked in recent years. “The first is a personal project that I started two years ago. For this, I used texts from colonial literature about Malaya, the British colony in present-day Malaysia and Singapore. ”

Lee, who comes from Singapore, texts used by British and French explorers travelers who have written about the country and the people ethnographic reports in earlier centuries. She merges these with photos she has taken. “But there is a twist in it. I shot all the footage in the UK. Certain landscapes, for example, were described as very lyrical or even erotic and I wanted to bring that look back to British soil. ”

The photos are now shown together with the texts. Lee had to look for suitable locations for some images. “For example, I found specific tropical plants in the Kew Botanical Gardens. The landscapes of the jungle were not easy to find. "

Lee wants to continue to look for things that were previously described as exotic in Malaya but can now also be found in Great Britain. "It is an ongoing project and I hope this will result in a monograph."

The other photos she shows are part of Xing, a joint venture that Lee entered into with other photographers three years ago. “The subject of the platform is the image of Asian women in the West, especially the way in which they are transformed into exotic or erotic objects. I worked with ten other photographers and writers, and everyone responded to the theme in their own way. Some sent in existing work, others made new work. "

Lee has a background in journalism. Five years ago she moved to London, where she studied creative direction at the University of the Arts. “Slowly my attention shifted to photography, initially to commercial fashion photography. After that, my work was very much driven by research. Now I want to write more, but I don't give up photography. I want the two to go together, so use text and photography for things that are important to me. ”

One of the topics she wants to explore in her work is the role of language in the contemporary world. “London is very multicultural and you can hear all kinds of languages on the street. But still mostly English. I look at translation and oral traditions. Many things are not recorded. My mother speaks a kind of variant of Bahasa Melayu (Malay, ed.) And many things she translates from her father to me are lost because I don't speak that dialect. ”

Lee not only wants to come to Amsterdam for Unseen, but also to settle here. “I think it is very fascinating what is happening in Amsterdam. I hope the quality of life is better than in London and it is interesting to see what happens with my work. Singapore and London are both huge and I have never worked in a smaller city. "

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Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee—A.I.

Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee is an artist based between London and Singapore. Her work navigates the nuances and intricacies that arise out of history and memory. Meditating on fractured and lost traditions, themes of displacement and nostalgia weave in and out of her storytelling. Through visual and textual interventions, she attempts an undoing of power structures and knowledge production. By negotiating the dynamic of the ‘near’ and ‘elsewhere’, her practice works to remap a singular history, steering narratives toward alternate and fluid territories.