Caring for Aehee @ Cowwarr Art Space

Aehee - Self-Portrait  from "Caring for Aehee" series(cont.) Friday, 11 February 2010

Dear Diary,

As mentioned previously, the Cowwarr Art Space also includes a number of self-contained artists’ studios and cottages, which over the recent years have attracted interdisciplinary artists from around Australia and overseas. One of the latest artists-in-residence was Aehee, a young photographic, conceptual, and video artist from Korea. One of her works, a video collage from the series Caring for Aehee, is currently projected in the exhibition space.

Caring for Aehee is an ongoing project where the artist moulds herself to wishes, ideas, and directions of others. She spent a year being ‘cared for’ as a house pet, and another year as a model. The current projection is the extension of the latter body of work. If preceding video projections and stills documented Aehee being dressed, made up, directed, and posed by others, this video turns attention away from the model and concentrates on the photographer. The work collages the videos of professional and amateur photographers (including myself) directing Aehee as she poses for the camera.

Aehee - as directed and photographed by me in "Caring for Aehee" projectOne of the most revealing and unexpected aspects of the video is how similar were our directives to Aehee – notwithstanding our level of professionalism (or lack thereof), age, gender, or cultural background. There are consecutive sequences, which show photographers asking Aehee to smile; to take two steps back; to raise her hands; to lean this way or that. Another sequence records the exclamations of self-satisfied delights with our own work – as well as with Aehee’s ability to follow our directions; words like wonderful, perfect, great, etc., are repeated ad infinitum in a whole spectrum of voices and accents. The video collage is an interesting study in the nature of human identity and – despite the obvious differences – preconditioned societal similarities among us, as if there are only that many ways in which one can (or knows how to) direct a model.

The work made me think of Kristin Headlam’s series of “bridal paintings”, where the focus was not so much on the bride or the groom, but on the photographer, and the interactions between wedding photographers and wedding parties. In the similar vein, Aehee’s innovative work concentrates not on the model but on the photographer, objectifying the objectifier.

[© Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg 2010. This article is copyright, but the full or partial use is WELCOME with the full and proper acknowledgment]

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Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

February 2010


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