SUNGJAE LEE (He/they) is a Seoul-born, Chicago-based artist who makes performance, installation, text, video, and sound. He received his B.F.A. in Sculpture from Seoul National University in 2014, during which time he discovered his deep interest in immaterial and time-based mediums to represent the voices of marginalized groups. To further develop his practice as a performance artist, he pursued his M.F.A. in Performance Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and graduated in 2019. Throughout his residing in the US, his practice has centered on the need for visibility and representation of queer Asians in a Western context. His work has been presented globally in South Korea, Sweden, Canada, New Zealand, and the US. His performance pieces were shown in “Emergency INDEX” by Ugly Duckling Press and "A Research on Feminist Art Now" by No New Work. He has attended residencies at ACRE, High Concept Labs, Vermont Studio Center, Millay Colony for the Art, and the Corporation of Yaddo. Recently, he was selected for SPARK Grant by the Chicago Artist Coalition and Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art 2020-21.
As a queer Asian man, I am critical of the dominant expressions of masculinity, centering around hairy, muscular men. Because of my lack of these characteristics and their dominance in Western culture, Caucasian men have become a fantasy to me, as an object of desire. My practice concerns examining my own internalized whiteness and its relevance to Asian men, who are often regarded as effeminate, desexualized, thus invisible. Resisting dominant gender stereotypes can manifest as tension, exhaustion, and affects the human experience deeply. How do we begin to develop a discourse of sexuality in relation to race? Is desire possible beyond the traps of racial politics? How can my bodily experience and sexual fetish remain in dialogue with the visibility of the queer Asian communities? It is through these questions that I construct idealized figures with clay and human hair, and narratives illustrating personal history, memory, emotions, as a practice of exploring new forms of masculinity.