Artist to Watch: Chan-hyo Bae

By Jorge Rivas Nov 23, 2009

"The sun never sets over the British Empire." The country of Queen, the country with pride in her history and tradition, still seems to be breathing in Great Britain. I try to become British just as a child pretends to be a mother by dressing in her clothes and making up with her cosmetics. The attempt to become British is to me what a child tries to do in dressing as an adult. Although the mother’s clothes are unsuitable for the child, the child still tries to dress as its mother, trying to express its existence as another person. The language of a child. In becoming a British lady, which may seem gauche, it is my language." Chan-Hyo Bae is a South Korean born artist and photographer living in London. His work examines how we look at gender, power, race and class. The image above is a part of "Existing in Costume," a series of self-portraits in period costumes that comment on his experience assimilating himself into British culture – he’s lived and worked in London since 2004. "Chan-Hyo Bae has chosen the iconography of queenliness to express his feelings as an Asian immigrant. He dresses in period costumes and photographs himself as unidentified members of English aristocracy from the 13th to 19th centuries. Bae’s large format color prints reflect feelings of cultural estrangement and reveal a fantasized character that would be accepted and honored." -Statement from the Saatchi Gallery