I will easily admit that of all the exhibitions I saw the other day, Myuong Ho Lee’s at Yossi Milo confused me the most: Of course, I was aware of this work - having seen it on various websites. I went to the show hoping that seeing the work as actual prints on a wall would make its impact and force clear to me, since I wasn’t sure I’d believe what people wrote about it online. And then it didn’t.
Did I set myself up for disappointment? I don’t think I did. Here’s the thing: Online, photography works in different ways than when seeing it on the wall (or in a book). With Myuong Ho Lee’s “Trees”, the concept was clear (maybe overly so, to the point of being almost too obvious). Given the subject matter I thought what the concept would (well, actually might) achieve you’d need to see on the wall: Trees photographed against a cloth backdrop, in various settings, either isolated or as part of a larger landscape.
But not only did the large prints do absolutely nothing for me, I was actually put off by the fact that the overall setting in the gallery space created a feeling of coldness. That’s not what I would have expected at all! It’s probably one thing to get this feeling of coldness from the photographs of an artist who, for example, takes strictly composed images inside buildings without people (if you get a chill there, well, then you maybe experienced something the artist intended to show you), but it’s quite another to experience this feeling from photographs of organic matter, which has been taken out of its context in some way (even though the wider view clearly shows the trees still to be in that landscape).