a proper goodbye
I have been suffering from anxiety and overthinking mainly because of my pessimism and cynicism towards life and humanity. After many helpless days of misery, oppression, and trauma in the military, I became very sensitive at spotting toxic things about life and people. It was so easy to be outraged by many societal problems created by people, and everything seemed so futile and meaningless as there were so many negative aspects of life that cannot be ignored. It was not about being self-righteous or feeling morally superior, but it was about being overly criticizing against the dark sides of humanity and its obnoxious culture.
Unfortunately, we easily witness evil things all around us. As Susan Sontag describes in her essay On Photography, “the sense of taboo which makes us indignant and sorrowful is not much sturdier than the sense of taboo that regulates the definition of what is obscene. The vast photographic catalogue of misery and injustice throughout the world has given everyone a certain familiarity with atrocity, making the horrible seem more ordinary-making it appear familiar and inevitable.” However, even though I am quite cynical about everything, I have always wanted to reassess my internal and external values and embrace the negativity in life and people rather than constantly resisting and fighting against it because I still try to find love and trust for humanity even though we are not perfect. I still believe there are many good-hearted people out there and we might not be able to change the whole world, but we can definitely change someone’s life with love and care.
Throughout this series of photographs, I wanted to reflect my intention of leaving all the negativities and antagonism towards life behind and focusing on my sincere effort of looking for positivity in life and capture that sentiment. I have been exploring photography as my main medium to express my intuitive creative process. My eyes tend to find a sense of comfort and restful moments that depict unnoticeable things until you have a good look at them with a sense of quietness and subtleness. Like a hummingbird with a free spirit, I wanted to find soft and poetic moments waiting to be discovered in mundane life.
To view the image sequence, please visit my website: www.wonholee.com
I also printed some of my images on postcards. I divided up the introductory essay into 10 different sections, wrote them down on the postcards, and sent them to my address. I first wanted to just cherish the postcards in their original form, but there was something poetic about writing a message to myself, letting them go, letting them go through all the damages from the delivery, and waiting for them to return to me. When I received them, the colors were faded, there were smudges on the surface and the edges were creased, but they still had this gentle tonality that embraced the imperfection of their physical form.
Sincere thanks to my dearest family for their endless love and support no matter what. I love them so much, and I am truly blessed to have them.
Special thanks to Erin Cooney, Isaac Ruder, Mona Kuhn, Rebeca Méndez, Yogan Müller, and all my DMA friends for their helpful guidance and support!