Minji Yi explores “the grey zone” in between truth and photography
The Seoul-based photographer talks us through her new book released last month To Bury the Dog Properly, the culmination of two highly personal projects taken in the past four years.
- Jyni Ong
- 3 December 2019
- Reading Time
- 3 minute read
Photographer Minji Yi is not only distinguished for her delicate yet powerful use of the camera, it is also for her striking compositions and unusual image curation that seizes the viewer with intrigue. She takes photographs of things that are both seen and unseen, observing quiet moments and elevating them into emotive scenes through artful photography. Often, she uses computer windows as frames for her stills after evaluating that “photography is no longer separate from our daily lives.” Utilising this digital motif with sophistication, the Korean photographer likes to overlap multiple computer windows in her image curation, creating a floating effect throughout her work and “showing a sense of image processing as part of [her] work.”
In her recent publication To Bury the Dog Properly released last month, Minji puts together 79 photographs from two recent projects across 144 pages of beautifully designed spreads. Published by Aprilsnow Press, designed by Jeong Jaewan and edited by Kay Jun, the book is a culmination of Minji’s work since 2015. In Light Volume, documented in between 2015-17, the Seoul-based photographer captures the known and the unknown surrounding her grandmother’s death.
The evocative photographic essay is a contemplation of her grandmother’s life as she neared the end. A Korean War refugee, labourer and deacon who had to move constantly, Minji reflects on her grandmother’s nomadic existence as a “Korean woman who had to live a life of floating” through disconnected identities. Minji tells It’s Nice That: “Photography is believed to be a medium which records an object or scene in the most truthful way, but there is always the grey zone which photography misses.” As a result, Minji explores this liminal space, playing with inversions of light and harshly cropped compositions to suggest the in-betweenness of the project.
The second project that makes up _To Bury the Dog Properly_ is _Sight Lag,_ a more experimental approach from Minji which sees her journey to Iceland in the aftermath of her grandmother’s death. She thought Iceland would be a contrasting distance from her grandmother’s place in the world, and through a conceptual investigation of the white landscape, Minji interprets the function of photography today.
“I like it when people use their imagination and try to read the narratives behind atmospheric images,” she says of the overall intention behind the series. Widening the avenues of communication between the viewer and creator, each individual viewer is invited to interpret the work for themselves, making sense of the abstracted images through their own reality. “Narratives encountered throughout life interest me,” Minji goes on to say. “Everyday observations inspire me to visualise and build its own world.”
Having studied architecture at Hongik University, Minji’s first encounters with photography were through architectural research. In part, her education has helped develop her signature of practice of expressing the in-between, much like the process-heavy methodology of an architect. She purposely uses the positive and negative film scans in her work, for example, presenting the viewer with a fully realised image documented mid-process. And hoping to continue this kind of multi-layered narratives in the future, Minji is working towards her second solo show in 2020 which will showcase a number of different timelines, women and lives.
GalleryMinji Yi: To Bury the Dog Properly, courtesy of Aprilsnow Press
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.