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Heji Shin, One of the Artists That Define the Contemporary Age

posted 18 July 2019


Left: Heji Shin, 〈Baby 12〉, 2016. Right: Heji Shin, 〈Baby 16〉, 2016. ⓒGalerie Buchholz, Berlin/Cologne.

The work of Heji Shin (b. Seoul, South Korea, 1976) is featured in "The 25 Works of Art That Define the Contemporary Age" of New York Times Style Magazine, 15 July 2015. As the only female Asian artist included on the list, she was selected by artists Martha Rosler, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Torey Thornton and curators David Breslin and Kelly Taxter.

Birth is the subject of 〈Baby〉, seven photographs by Heji Shin that capture the moments after crowning. Shin illuminates some of the undeniably gory scenes with a scorching red light. Other pictures are barely lit at all, and the puckered faces of the almost-born emerge from menacing black shadows. While these photographs might remind us of our common humanity, they are hardly sentimental or celebratory — several are downright scary. This complexity is at the core of Shin’s practice, from pornographic photographs of chiseled men dressed as beefcake cops to colossal portraits of Kanye West that debuted shortly after the rapper’s inflammatory conversation with Donald Trump. (Two Kanye portraits and five of the “Babies” were in the 2019 Whitney Biennial.)

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