Nikki Lee

October 15, 2007

The photography of Nikki Lee and Cindy Sherman look different, but both contain much attention to detail.  The major difference being that Nikki Lee’s photos look like anything you would find on some-body’s myspace page or any family photo album ever. 

In her photography, Lee ingrains herself in a different sub group of culture.  She does a very convincing job of this, blending is extremely well.  A common criticism of her work is that is doesn’t look like what we would perceive to be art, her photos look like “drug store prints push pinned to the wall” as described in one of the background pieces.  Another criticism of her work could be that she simply plays off of preconceived stereotypes of what we think all these groups would look like.  Her Yuppie Project involves, 2 well dressed women standing in front a department store, holding shopping bags with one of those ridiculous little dogs.  The Tourist Project involves cheesy poses made by people in cheesy clothes.  And the Oklahoma Project plays off our visions of the red-neck.  Jameson would argue that Lee’s pictures don’t represent the real past, but only “our ideas and stereotypes about the past.”  *[Obligatory Baudrillard reference] *  Baudrillard would argue that Lee is simply taking those old stereotypes and reproducing them, thus losing touch with the original idea.

However, you could argue that the point of Lee using those stereotypes is to expose them as being ridiculous and foolish; and that we shouldn’t judge people based on preconceived notions going along with a particular group they are associated with. 

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2 Responses to “Nikki Lee”

  1. Christine said

    Both of the criticisms you brought up about the photos looking like “drug store prints” and playing off our preconceived stereotypes are definitely two of the ideas that stand out most to me. I think I’m okay with the photos looking ordinary and like they could be in anyone’s set of developed pictures because that brings art down to the ordinary person (high vs. low art). Additionally, it makes sense to have the photos relate to more people because then it spreads Lee’s message to the larger masses. However, for as often as we (sorry for generalizing everyone) stereotype I still think it’s not unrealistic to argue that the uber-rich, who consume high art and would look down upon this form of expression, are the ones most in need of some attitude adjustments. (Again, just a generalization and I’m doing my own stereotyping, but yea… work with me!)

    In terms of the stereotypes, I can’t decide my feeling on this because it varies depending on the photo. As I pointed out in class, most of us laughed a bit more about the photo from the “Ohio Project” and I’m not sure if we felt freer to do that because it was a white male and not a minority, but I thought it was an interesting reaction. I tend to view this from perspective of the people she is hanging out with and I can’t help but think I would feel a bit betrayed based on her portrayal of certain subjects. The lesbian photos are a perfect example where I think I may be slightly offended if I were homosexual because not all lesbians look that way and it’s a gross generalization. On the other hand, if Lee’s motive really is to point out how ludicrous we are with all of our stereotypes and preconceived ideas then I’m all for it and think she should break down some more walls.

  2. Marina said

    Good point about the myspace idea. I never thought of that. While I thought she did a great job blending in with her photos though, it wasn’t hard for me to spot her whatsoever. I do admire the fact that she had enough nerve to partake in some of the settings. Nice job on the Baudrillard reference. I can always rely on you for that one, but I think your absolutely right. She’s recreating a ton of stereotypes, but I can’t help but feel like shes doing an amazingly good job of it!

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