Archive for June, 2008

© Hee Jin Kang

Five Sandy’s Deli photographs have been included in a big group show called A Declaration of Immigration at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. From their website:

A Declaration of Immigration is an exhibition that depicts many of the experiences and viewpoints within U.S. immigrant communities. The works of over 70 artists will help visitors increase their understanding of this complex issue by providing immigrant perspectives that are seldom included in the national debate.

The show fittingly opens on the Fourth of July!


National Museum of Mexican Art
1852 West 19th Street
Chicago, IL 60608


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the savages

One of my favorite childhood photographs is a snapshot of me and my brother on the beach. I’m wearing my favorite red and white polka dot bikini, perched with both feet atop a sturdy yellow (?) bucket, balanced. My brother is falling over next to me, one foot on his squished bucket, other foot plopped onto the sand, hands akimbo with an exasperated look on his face. My expression? A self-satisfied smile. It’s such a perfectly captured representation of our childhood. While my brother growing up was often hapless in his own way, I smugly got perfect grades, played the piano better, and was the annoying smartypants par excellence.

I watched Tamara Jenkins’ The Savages the other night with pitch-perfect acting by Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman. My interactions with my brother are nothing as contentious as the Savages’ relationship, but the movie did make me think a lot about the complexities of sibling love, especially as we (and our parents) grow older.

Ironically, I stopped being the great hope for my family when I decided to pursue photography and art as a career. Once the possibility of my becoming a doctor or lawyer ceased to exist, the familial pressure on me was off. My younger brother has taken on the older sibling’s role – my parents turn to him when faced with problems. It’s as if by choosing to be an artist, I was freed of my elder daughter’s duties. Does this mean that my parents think I made irresponsible career choices?

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the fear

Over the weekend I returned from Mexico and headed straight to Woodstock to start my first summer residency. Honestly I had no idea what to expect. Well, here I am. And I guess if I were shooting like a madwoman, I wouldn’t be writing this post, but today it’s a bit gloomy outside and I am overwhelmed by this feeling of dread about making pictures. Even with the whole glorious world around me, I can’t figure out what I want to photograph. I don’t even really FEEL like photographing at all. It’s like extended performance anxiety. Stage fright. Here’s some free time and space to do what you want to do. Terrifying.

Update: I wrote that yesterday. Today I feel much more inspired.

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I’m in Mexico for the next week.  Hello tacos!

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I am the lucky recipient of a green, second-hand (but nicely tuned-up) fold-up bicycle, given to me by my friends A. and B. The best thing about having a bike is the freedom to ride! All those strange corners of Brooklyn that I’ve been photographing have suddenly become mere bike rides away. I’ve also inherited a funny round helmet that makes my head look like a bowling ball.

I’m excited to bring my new wheels up to Woodstock for my residency. I can’t think of a more pleasant way to get around in the Catskills than on a green fold-up bike.

Here are a couple of photographs taken in Brooklyn.

© Hee Jin Kang 2008

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Photographer Kevin J. Miyazaki does a regular “I love this photo” post on his blog – and he kindly did one on a Sandy’s Deli picture here. His photography website has some excellent projects.

Also thanks to Nymphoto (great name!) for the mention on their blog.

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I did a long interview about the Sandy’s Deli series for Monthly Photo, a Korean photography magazine, and it’s published in their June issue, out now at newsstands (in Korea!). I just picked up my copies from the DHL depot in the belly of Brooklyn (a sweaty four-hour journey, but that’s another story). Anyway, the email interview was conducted in English with photo writer Chul S. Lee, who then translated it into Korean.

Sadly I can’t read Korean terribly well so I’ll have to wait for my parents to re-translate the article for me. Hmm… how very roundabout. I spoke at length about the difficulty sometimes in communicating with my parents because of our language gap. Funny now they’ll get to read all about my work in Korean and then translate it back to me in broken English.

Here are snapshots of the layout, not bad at 10 pages:

P.S. to the rest of the world, please never send me anything via DHL.

Photo writer Chul S. Lee, currently based in Seoul, has a photoblog here (in Korean).

The Monthly Photo website is here (mostly in Korean).

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