Show World

Part 10 (2003)
photo: Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects
Part 10 (2003)


Nikki S. Lee
Leslie Tonkonow
535 West 22nd Street
Through December 20
Nikki S. Lee's considerable reputation rests on her serial impersonation of various contemporary stereotypes—from hip-hop honey to yuppie bitch—and the photographs that document her public interaction with other members of those social groups. Because those photos were deliberately amateurish party snaps, I preferred to think of Lee as a shrewd performance artist whose explorations of identity were far more interesting than the pictures that recorded them. With her new series, however, Lee reasserts herself as an artist with a camera and assumes a much more fluid role—that of a Cindy Sherman-esque Everywoman making her way in the world. The gimmick here is elegantly simple: Each big, color photo is radically cropped to eliminate Lee's male companion. He remains as an arm, a leg, a slice of shoulder, or bit of head—a presence denied. Lee looks different in nearly every photo, but she plays one part: She's the dauntless survivor of many discarded relationships, always ready for love. Her photos are evidence not of romantic failure but of romantic persistence, and a woman's willingness to cut her losses and move on, alone if necessary.