LEE Kai-chung performs artistic research on historical and historiography, systems, and ideology.

In his early years, Lee was inspired by the lack of proper governance over public records, then he develops his archival research methodology as his key artistic practice. Through research, social participation and engagement, Lee’s work resonates with historical narratives, which demonstrates that individual gesture as a transition between politics and art.

In 2017, Lee initiated a hexalogy of projects that are under the theme of “Displacement” – to take a departure from the socio-historical implication under the Pan-Asia context, the research-based series examines human dispersion, material circulation and geopolitical relations. In order to experience both the mental and physical state of displacement, Lee has been constantly on the road since 2020. The first in the series, The Retrieval, Restoration and Predicament (2017-19) examines the material and ideological transition of public statues in Hong Kong; the second, The Narrow Road to the Deep Sea (2019-20), scrutinizes the refuge in Hong Kong and Guangdong during the Japanese occupation period that later led to the Nanshitou Incident. The rest of the series are as follows: the third: Theatre Exile (2020-); the fourth: The Infinite Train (2021-); the fifth: The Longing Park (TBC); the final: Sea Sand Home (2020-2030). The series will also be represented as a social archive in 2022.

Lee’s ongoing research project Archive of the People addresses the political standing of documents and archives in the social setting. In 2016, Lee established the collective ‘Archive of the People’, which serves as an extension of his personal research to collaborative projects, education and publications.

In collaboration with curator Shen Jun, Lee founded stepbackforward.art and PhantomArchives.com in 2020 and 2022 respectively: the former is an online platform collecting artist archives, fragmented thoughts and artist methodology; the latter extends Lee’s “Displacement” series to a public domain, constituting an online archives that embraces public participation.

Lee’s recent exhibition includes ‘Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present’ (UAE, 2023) and ‘Wandering, Walking’ (Gwangju Asia Culture Center, 2023). Lee is awarded The Robert Gardner Fellowship in Photography (2022) from Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology of Harvard University, Altius Fellowship (2020) from Asian Cultural Council and the Award for Young Artist (Visual Arts) (2018) from Hong Kong Arts Development Council.

Keywords: Displacement, Affect, Research-based practice, Archives

e: kaiclee13@gmail.com