Throughout her photographic career, Jocelyn Lee has utilised photography as a tool to explore the tactile qualities of the living world. Her richly descriptive still-life works emphasise the tonal and textural richness of foliage, fabrics and flesh. Lee explores the sensual and visceral world, creating richly textured images which reflect on wider themes of beauty, decay and fragility.
Lee’s recent series The Appearance of Things continues her ongoing examination of the physical world. Driven by existential themes, the works in the series reflect on sexuality, death, nature and aging. The series was mainly photographed in Maine, New England, where Lee moved to after living in Brooklyn, New York. Not solely focusing on still-life, portraiture, or landscape photography, the works engage with and blur the lines of multiple genres.
Dark Matter #3, Wedding Flowers (2015), is Lee’s earliest experimentation with the still-life genre. Preserving the flowers from her wedding in water, Lee was struck by the lush colour, reflection and play of light on the surface of the flowers and water. Lee describes her experimental approach to this photograph as intuitive and spontaneous, and said of the flowers, “These were bodies just like human bodies that went through decay and weightlessness.” After her wedding day, Lee did not want to get rid of her wedding flowers, so she floated them in a large tub of water in her garden. Leaving the flowers there over a prolonged period of time, Lee experienced their change and decay depending on the light and warmth of the environment. This act of preservation highlights Lee’s process of photographing. She uses a heavy, traditional camera and tripod to create both her portraits and still-lives, culminating in a very slow process which she embraces as a pause from contemporary fast-paced, everyday life: “For me, photography began as a way to slow the world down, it’s a very contemplative medium to me”