Sean Lee is a talented twenty-five year old photographer who lives and works in Singapore. His commercial work is stylized and dynamic, but his personal work is, well, personal. His series, Homework, will be on exhibition at Galeria Tagomago in Barcelona from July 7th – September 10th. In his short photography career, he has already garnered awards and solo shows, including the Discovery Award at the Arles Photo Festival, the Special Jury Prize at the Angkor Photo Festival, and the Icon de Martell Cordon Bleu, a photography prize that recognizes the most outstanding artist in Singapore.
I started making images about my family on a regular basis upon completing my course in the School of Theology in Singapore. It was also around that time that I started having a sneaky suspicion that the reason why I have always felt the need to create is because I was first created by an uncreated God. For some reason, this time spent in school in many ways elevated my love for making images. Strange, especially considering how nothing we learntat all was particularly related to photography.
I have always felt that the only kinds of work worth doing are the ones that we are utterly concerned about, whether in photography or otherwise. This is perhaps the reason why I turned to making images at home. There is a kind of quiet delight in photographing the members of my family. In many ways, the process of making pictures has made life at home a little less mundane and uneventful. Sometimes, itʼs almost magical. Like the time when I made my parents hug each other. That was the first time I had ever seen them being so physically intimate. It was pure joy for me.
I do different things with my family members in this work. Sometimes, I use them to say something about my thoughts on faith, desires and fears. Other times, I just want to make them touch each other, which is something that is very new to us. We never touch. And then there are times when I make them do completely weird and crazy things so that we can all laugh it together. That to me is one of the most magical things, making comedy with the camera.
I notice little things, like how looking at my family through the viewfinder feels so different from just looking at them. I am always surprised by their willingness to have their pictures taken and how they have gradually become more involved in the process, often giving me advice and opinions on the end products and setup. More recently, my dad and sister have been asking me to explain my work. I think I might just show them this.
To me, the best thing about this work has been how it has begun to affect all of us in the family and how we interact. This is what Iʼve been looking for ultimately: to be changed by what I do. It is not enough for me to just make images. Ultimately, I want my images to also make me. This work started off as a way for me to organise and to make sense of how I feel towards my family.Iʼm glad that it has turned into something more. I hope that you, too, will get something out of them.