Extra Credit- I bet Nikki S. Lee and Cindy Sherman are friends!

Nikki S. Lee is a contemporary artist very similar to Cindy Sherman.  She did a series of photography based artworks in which she altered her personality and appearance specifically in regards to different racial backgrounds.  Cindy Sherman experimented with races but only as a broad stereotypical example because she worked on a much larger scale in who she chose to act like.  Nikki S. Lee took her interest as an artist to one focused concept and did it in extensive detail.

In the “Projects” series of photographic images by Nikki S Lee, social as well as cultural identity are very much addressed.  Lee adapts to the surrounding cultures in each of her images.  She transforms herself completely to blend in with that culture by dressing like them and taking on their stereotypical, physical characteristics.  She even goes as far to change her skin color, hair, weight, and behavior.  Lee once stated,

Essentially life itself is a performance. When we change our clothes to alter our appearance, the real act is the transformation of our way of expression—the outward expression of our psyche.

These images are a true test of identity for Nikki.  They allow her to experience so many different cultures from her own perspective.  It also allows the viewer to question their own identity and ask themselves how their lives would change in regards to birthplace,  traditions, privileges, and individual place in society.

What I found to be most fascinating among these “Projects” was the fact that Nikki didn’t just simply dress up as these different people from all different backgrounds; she actually spent time with them and got to know them for the sake of her art project.  In this, I feel like she was actually able to take on some of their characteristics rather then just play a role in the photograph.  It makes the meaning a lot deeper then just a pose.  I feel like she actually was able to understand their different lifestyles and relate to them in specific ways.  I also enjoy the photography aspect of this image.  Because she is not looking directly at the camera, it looks much more natural, as if she were caught off guard while hanging out with this Hip Hop group of people.  Though I’m not necessarily sure I enjoy her facial expression.  The fact that her eyes appear to be rolled back in her head and the black man in back of her is holding her up; she comes across as being intoxicated.  This artist is another one among society today that has similar ideas to others around her as well as artists in history, but interprets them in her own way.  Which brings us back to the concept of reinterpretation through another’s experience as a form of art in a new context.

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