Heji Shin

8 Dec 2018 – 3 Feb 2019

Kunsthalle Zürich

Zurich, Switzerland


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Heji Shin is a New York-based, German-Korean photographer. She works for commercial projects such as fashion shoots , as well as for the not less commercial art world. Shin was known for her recordings on behalf of the American fashion label Eckhaus Latta , but also for Make Love , a much-discussed enlightenment book for teenagers as well as for the image cycles #lonelygirl and babies .

#lonelygirl (2016) shows the Jean Jean aurally as she examines a dildo as a matter of course, as she lovingly bills counts or puts her butt in scene. On a formal level, the recordings play with the language of fashion photography. Posing, strong lighting and other visual rhetoric staged nature here as fashion. #lonelygirl , the title of the series, refers to selfies of young women who use social media as a lone lost and self-confident femmes fatales. #lonelygirlis thus a tribute to the selfie as a globally widespread form of instinctual-animal self-praise. Depending on the perspective, the series can also be understood as a reckoning with vanity, as a study of contemporary imagery, as a sympathetic-playful portrait of an ape lady and as a contribution to the question of what the world would look like through the eyes of an ape.

The series Babies (2017) shows pictures of newborns the moment they are born. These are impressive pictures in which complete normality is paired with absolute exceptionality, in which the millions connect with the unique. Because there is hardly anything valuable and at the same time more everyday than a birth. It is the beginning of the end, everyone has experienced it and nobody remembers it. How this extremely intimate moment presents itself here with the utmost naturalness is the unforgettable and disturbing aspect of these pictures.

Heji Shin's photography arises from different perspectives and with great insolence of the question of intimacy. At the center of intimacy is always the trust, and this is shaken today on all levels (keyword fake news, data abuse, doubts to experts, etc.). Intimacy, however, functions as a hinge between our body and the public, protecting and revealing. It is of crucial importance and explosiveness, as it is currently being renegotiated with social media. It has become a global battleground and a place of deep upheavals and confusion. Once again, we face the challenge of the "difficult business of intimacy" (Virginia Woolf), that is, fundamentally re-addressing the complex question of intimacy. That's where Shin's image production goes, because that is the meaning of her photography: she demands that we face this task. At the same time, she does it in a way that's half as wild as if she did not care. But that is precisely the quality and provocation of this work: how calmly it shows the excitement.

Exhibiting artists

Heji Shin


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