Photographs from the series 'Phantom, Likeness of North Korean' 2014 by Doh Lee.
Under the inquisitive lens of photographer Doh Lee, Phantom, Likeness of North Korean unfolds as a story of simultaneous revelation and concealment, a search for reality under layers of fantasy, memory, and illusions.
Past and present intermingle in the unresisting expressions of Lee's subjects: as North Korean defectors to the UK, they carry fragments of their recent history, as they pierce their new home and culture with their old ones. The restlessness of movement and the obscurity of these portraits seek an affirmation of identity beyond the possibility of recognition.
As viewers, we are challenged to dig deeper, look longer, and carefully consider our next question. Photography as a medium seems to fail here – it doesn't document or record for posterity, but rather disturbs our senses and redefines our role as onlookers, so we are left wondering: Do we really know what we think we know? Is there something else, hiding there in broken shapes, blurs, and darkness?
Words: Elena Stanciu
Photography: Doh Lee