COMFORT WOMEN WANTED
1st Floor Exhibit: Drawings & Audio
The abstract drawings are inspired by 21 “comfort women” survivors that the artist has met in 6 countries in Asia. This series deals with memory, emotion, and action, in relation to the "comfort women.” The drawings address the issue of Japanese military sexual slavery as a whole, as well as the emotional darkness these women had to pass through. The trauma when, as survivor Jan Ruff O’Herne, says, “this fear builds up in your body. It goes up through your arms and your legs, like electrical wires,” and there is little or no chance of escape. The artworks explore visually, the politics of systems of coercion, power, and control, the fight against titanic forces of corruption and enslavement, and the sorrow of loss and the loneliness.
Both music and visual abstraction are forms of communication which help break down barriers, because they are understood viscerally, without the need of words. Here Lee returns to her roots as an abstract painter, exploring how the medium of drawing abstraction can be used to convey deeper truths about this challenging subject.
The drawings exist as individual artworks, yet the addition of audio in the space creates an environment more akin to an installation, (the artist’s most frequent mode of expression). Audio of the women singing in multiple languages, including Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipino, and Dutch, creates a sense of commonality, and confirms the drawings as traces expressing aspects of these women’s lives. It represent the women not just as victims, but as individuals who are no different than rest of us, with the same hopes and dreams, yet having gone through extraordinary experiences, and survived through the summoning of their own personal courage.
These artworks explore the strength of the human spirit, not to give up, not to give in, acknowledging the determination of these women, their heroic struggle for justice, and the power of human dignity.