Saturday, September 28, 2013

Hye-Ryoung Min (born in South Korea, lives and works in New York) is a photographer

Hye-Ryoung Min was born in South Korea and lives and works in New York City.
Her projects, <In-between Double> have been exhibited at Gallery LUX and Gallery Comma in Korea, and the SVA Gallery in NY. And also it has been featured in an En Foco exhibition, "The Changing World" by Michael Foley. She got a Portfolio Award of Seoul Photo Festival 2011 and exhibited in Seoul Museum of Art. In 2012, she got the 3rd prize of 'image 12' ASMP NY and showed the work at the winner’s exhibition. Also with <Channel247>, she was awarded in the ‘International Photography Awards’ and ‘Conscientious Portfolio Competition’. Most recently, her work from <Yeonsoo> was selected and honorable Mentioned for the ‘The Family’ at Detroit Center for Contemporary Photography by Aline Smithson.
Her commercial clients include Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, W, ELLE, ELLE Girl, Arena, Cosmopolitan, GQ, J Look, S Flash, Sajinyesul among others (Korea edition magazines) and advertising clients include Kiehl's, Coach, Sisley, Amore Pacific, Christian Dior, hexa by kuho, OnStyle and General Idea. In 2010 she named Photographer of the year by Harper's Bazaar Korea.

« In Korea we have a saying: ‘naughty 7 years old’. We think a child of six or seven is at their most mischievous, which is when I started photographing my niece, Yeonsoo.
Every kid is special but she was simply the most impressionable and sensitive girl and it made me want to look at her more closely. 
This process of observation required much delicate care. It was a fragile journey to the life and heart of a most unpredictable and sensitive girl, into her relationship with those around her: her family and friends –although they remain unseen in the photographs- and also to my own childhood. It came as a surprise for me to see how the little girl managed to express herself and react to the world. It took a while for me to understand that a kid has a character that hasn't settled down yet, so
she can be the sweetest girl at one moment and yet bitter or outrageous in the next. Her experience of the world is very limited by her young age, so that my sister is at once Yeonsoo's best-loved companion and her biggest rival. And yet, a kid’s imagination is unlimited; they can be anybody they want to be. 
Nowadays, Yeonsoo is going to school. I knew that the stage of being 7 years old would not last long. A period of transition was inevitable, which means moving from the family setting to the society of school. She has started learning how to live with others, and this has brought much laughter and tears as well. Young kids are like very soft clay or sponges, which become harder as they find their direction. It is how we learn to find our way in life.  What I didn't want to miss were these fragile moments of being a little girl, which all women went through.
Beyond my interest in her, there is also a reciprocal relationship between us. Looking at her, I often felt as if I was looking at myself as a child. It allowed me to meditate about how I came to be the woman I am today, and indeed what sort of person I’ve become. » Hye-Ryoung Min

Channel 247

« I had five television sets at home. Three of them were in the living room and two were in the back, one in the bedroom and the other one in the kitchen. By “televisions” I actually mean windows.  The three windows in the living room had the most interesting and varied shows and actors, since they give out on the main boulevard with its constant flow of people and situations.   But I also enjoyed the daily shows in the backyard featuring a more regular cast of actors and private moments.
This kind of programming had a loose schedule and no guarantees that shows would play on time. 
For the most part, it was all silent film and the story lines were pretty much repetitive. However, I started noticing subtle nuances and differences from day to day.  Repetition helped me understand actors’ basic characters; nuance and difference offered me clues into their hidden stories.
Before I knew it I was addicted and fell into the channel 247 day by day and for several months. Sometimes the channel had special seasonal broadcasts such as J’Ouvert, the West Indian American Day Parade at 4 o’clock in the morning; Mister Softy’s ice-cream truck during the summer, or middle-of-the-night backyard parties where illegal tattoo services were offered to ex-convicts who were full of confidence, laughter and loud cursing.
In my teens, I couldn’t help but think that somebody was watching me all the time so I had to act as a main actress in some kind of movie which made me feel self-conscious wherever I went. This might be typical of many other teenagers and it might even play a part in how one creates a sense of self.  I remember when the movie, ‘The Truman Show’ came out in 1998. It opens with the question: “What if you were watched every moment of your life?” It completely matched my imagination. The movie went on to show how Truman would really feel after he realized the truth of his condition. ‘The Truman Show’ brought to an end my life on an imaginary movie set. Which leads me to ask: how different is our behavior when we are conscious of others around us? And what do involuntary actions tell or reveal about us?
There are moments when people are oblivious of others, or simply don’t want to be mindful of anybody other than themselves. These moments happen between things, such as when we are rushing out to work in the morning, taking out the garbage, coming back from the deli with ready-made food, or maybe just sitting on a stoop daydreaming. Since I started watching people that I don’t know anything about - name, relationship, occupation, age, personal history - I have noticed that those moments can be more revealing of their personalities than when they are trying to make a good impression on others.
Leaving home, I sometimes bumped into some of the actors on the street unexpectedly. It was the only time that I got to see them up close and I almost wanted to say hello and thank them for the shows, but I couldn’t.
I hoped they would never realize they had been constantly watched for months and want to escape from my TV set as Truman did.      
When I eventually left the neighborhood, I had to unsubscribe from Channel 247. » Hye-Ryoung Min 


« Portraiture is about the invisible but irresistible feeling between photographer and subject, the way it pulls them together into making an image. In my experience, the result is determined by how and where I meet my subjects, what they are doing at that moment, or how they perceive their own role in the process as well as that essential truth about themselves that always remains at their core.
In summer of 2011, I set up a makeshift studio in the courtyard of the Spanish Cultural Center in Antigua Guatemala.  I used indigenous woven fabrics for backdrops, which I hung in a landscape of four hundred year old churches, eroded walls with washed out layers of pastel colors with a horizon line of volcanoes looking down the beautiful colonial city. People simply walked into the studio as they were, and I would catch the moment when they are willing to be photographed, not for a photojournalist or commercial photographer but simply for himself or herself. After asking for some basic personal information, I let my subjects take the lead, offering them a minimum of direction. It was a sort of performance and collaboration where I sought to be receptive to their desires and their energy and sense of excitement so that I could translate it photographically.  Some days, I would leave the confines of the courtyard and venture out on the streets with my mobile studio.
Among many others, I met a group of students coming back after school; an indigenous family coming from their small village to the city to sell hand-made card and which never had a family photo taken before; fashion model wannabes; little girls playing at being fashion models while waiting for the chicken bus; a couple having an intimate conversation after the Sunday mass; cheerful ceviche street vendor; boys in a school band walking back home after rehearsals for the Independence Day Parade; volunteer firefighters refilling water for in their tank after extinguishing a fire;  hungry gang members having a quick bite of fried chicken and washing it down with an oversized bottle of Gallo, the national beer all the while turning away and hiding their faces from the camera; an elderly couple who came to the cultural center for a holiday outing; backpackers on the way to leadership workshop; a humble girl balancing a basket full of snacks to sell on foot around the city but with the face and self-confidence of Mayan princess; a gay couple who looked like father and son; a woman who so very excited to have a studio session with me but at the same time was terrified of having the photograph publicly shown because of her escape from domestic violence in the past. All of them were walking into my studio regardless of their age, gender, education, skin color, or occupation and shared a special moment with me.
During my trip I learnt that indigenous people in Guatemala believe that every time they are photographed the camera steals a small part of their soul.   Knowing this made me feel guilty whenever I photographed people or even objects. 
My deepest appreciation and gratitude goes out to each and every one of the 211 people who trusted me and agreed to trade a handful of their soul in exchange for one of my photographs. » Hye-Ryoung Min

In-between Double

« The human heart cannot make itself understood.  And once the truth within that heart reaches out, through language, song or dance it inevitably becomes distorted and its shape is altered into another.
I believe that as photographers we can see into the lives of strangers.  But our vision is only an approximation, an imperfect version of their reality.  My series In-between Double is the image that results from the intersection of my path and their own; their shape colored by my feeling, translating into a third language.
What kinds of thoughts do we live with?  What are the recurrent themes that dominate our days or perhaps keep us from sleeping at night?  And how do we chart the fleeting sensory perceptions that trigger the remembrance of things past?  Can this kind of experience be represented photographically?
My series, In-between Double followed passerby through the rhythms of their daily lives and portrayed them by guessing at their hidden emotions. The resulting images are multi-layered explorations of the transient and evanescent nature of our humanity; a delicate weaving of thought, feeling and emotion: the vanishing echo of our passage through the world. » Hye-Ryoung Min

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