PRINT September 1999


There may be eight million stories in the Naked City, but the number of social identities we recognize and inhabit is far fewer. Some are self-selected (punk rockers, for instance), some apparently ascriptive (Hispanics), some even combinations of both (say, young Japanese in the East Village). What matters is being part of a group, not condemned to go it alone. Nikki S. Lee, an artist born in Korea in 1970 who has lived in New York since 1994, has an immigrant’s keen eye for the quotidian rituals of social identification. Grouped under rubrics like “The Yuppie Project,” “The Lesbian Project,” “The Swingers Project” (as in dancers, not wifeswappers), the images that make up her various series might be taken for straightforward photojournalism, except that a second glance reveals that one figure inevitably turns up amid the crowd, fitting in no matter what the group: the artist herself.


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