Sue Kay Lee

Omniscient Animal #6
wood, vinyl, plastic chain, upholstery trim
55 x 84 x 30 in.

My work understands gender as unsteady interpretations of behavioral patterns made into traits, attributed to bodies, often serving to place people uncomfortably, unproductively. Gender, however it’s defined, tends to be rigidly historic and too often binary, behavioral manifestations people use to tool themselves to others’ pleasure, labor and power.

My work stems from a coming to terms with displacement related to gender and understands sex as a means by which people organize themselves in relation to each other through interactions of dominance, attraction, alienation, reproduction, prevalence, pressure, pleasure. I want to see if norms can also be aberrations, if inherited binaries and limited networks of generalization can operate otherwise. Stereotypes have become essential, as portrayals ripe to be revitalized with variability, humor, obfuscation. Precisely because stereotypical bodies and ideas are commonplace, they are, for me, grammatical, the building blocks for communication and interaction. I use stereotypes and stereotyped bodies as subterfuge, points of articulation but also manipulation.

By de- and recontextualizing body parts, sexualizing inanimate objects and divesting animate figures of gendered attributes, I try to disrupt the typical workings of gender—embracing, exaggerating, proliferating, perverting and hybridizing. By encouraging the convergence of foundational binaries and stereotypes, my work aims to break down expected identity markers as it produces alternative possibilities for self-expression and interpersonal connection. At the heart of my practice is a belief that art can be generative rather than decisive or dictatorial, a means of exploring our lenses of interaction with the world as we struggle to connect with, understand and reimagine one another.

© Sue Kay Lee