exhibition
Tim Lee, Funny Face, George & Ira Gershwin, 1927, 2002. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Photo © National Gallery of Canada
Tim Lee, Funny Face, George & Ira Gershwin, 1927, 2002. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Photo © National Gallery of Canada
Tim Lee revisits key moments in the lives and works of various
cultural icons – in this case George and Ira Gershwin – and re-enacts them for the camera. Neither musician nor performer,
he relies on visual effects such as repetition, multiplication
and fragmentation of his body, facilitated through either video
or photography, to play the roles. Here, Lee films himself
from the shoulders up, moving to the music of the Gershwin’s
“Funny Face” – a song penned by the sons of Russian-Jewish
immigrants, made famous by a white male American singer
and later re-recorded by a female African-American – while an
anonymous, Caucasian torso plays the guitar below. By inserting
his Asian-Canadian identity, Lee offers us a remixed version
of cultural history that points to both the unfixed nature of historical narratives and how the artist himself fits into them.

Working with photography, video, text and sculpture, Tim Lee’s work both replicates and re imagines seminal moments in art history and popular culture. With sources that range from Johann Sebastian Bach, Steve Martin, Dan Graham, Public Enemy, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Ted Williams, Lee suggestively interpolates himself with the history of his subjects by loosely reconstructing specific works associated with their creators, and in so doing, complicates our knowledge of these histories while mapping out an extended timeline that travels from the historical past to the imagined future.

Tim Lee lives and works in Vancouver