“This is my body”—
by Josey Lee
A reflection on the repercussions of my parents’ divorce, “This is my body”— is a lament over the dismembering of my family, the tearing apart of that body, the desecration of that sanctuary people call home. It is also a meditation on the collision between the earthly and the divine.
As a triune metaphor for my family as both body and sanctuary, this installation contains visual aspects of my childhood home, the Bible’s recurring theme of animal sacrifice, and the Mosaic tabernacle (or tent).
My father (represented by the bookshelf) and my mother (the table) structured the family around their Christian faith and worked as clergy in Methodist and Presbyterian churches. My father left my family when I was nine, and in his absence, I watched my unstable family fall apart.
The charcoal drawings on the walls represent a brief survey of the substitutionary sacrifice depicted throughout the Bible: from the first animal skinned in the Garden of Eden, to the promise God made with Abraham, to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. At the same time, the drawings allude to my visceral struggle between two opposing views of God—is God an oppressive abstract or is he a relentlessly loving person? The black flesh and bones indicate the despair of abandonment, yet they also stand for a substitute so willingly given for people.
The household objects and the stained, patchwork walls all point to the temporality of the body, the fragility of familial structures, the fragmentation of memories, and the makeshift nature of economic instability. In and of themselves they also stand as a memorial to the process of their making. The walls were stained and ironed, then torn, frayed, and hand-stitched together, the tissue paper objects carefully papier-mâchéd, the furniture sewn together piece by piece. I likened these processes to grieving—they were both comforting and frustrating, long but temporary, physical and spiritual, mental and emotional—and ultimately part of the healing of deep wounds.
About the Artist
Josey Seung-Ah Lee is a multidisciplinary artist based in Philadelphia, PA. She received her B.A. in Art and Sociology from Pennsylvania State University in 2013. The following year she moved to Kansas City, MO to participate in a two-year artist residency with Transform Arts. This residency culminated in her solo exhibition, skin and bone, at the Leedy Voulkos Art Center in 2016. She has participated in community art projects and exhibited work in Long Island City, Kansas City, and Philadelphia