OH Soonhwa
Born in Seoul, S. Korea
Lives and works in Singapore

Oh Soonhwa photographs young Korean women in their late 20s and early 30s in the framework of their American homes. About her Darling series she writes: " My photographs may be seen as dealing with issues of cultural and female identity. The majority of the women I photograph came to the U.S. in their 20s to realize their hopes and dreams in ways they could not have done in Korea due to the deeply rooted oppressive cultural and social values regarding women."

Oh Soonhwa's portraits are powerful, simple and direct. Her sitters - chosen randomly to circumvent personal biases of appearance and character - represent a wide spectrum of individuals resisting easy categorization and stereotyping. Soon-Hwa scrutinizes the cultural and personal characteristics their environment, carefully eliminating from the frame everything she considers unnecessary. By removing "superfluous clutter" Soonhwa transforms the environment into a pared-down, semi-naked stage - a subtly unsettling arena, pervaded by a false sense of homey comfort and no longer completely the sitters' own. There they sit, superimposed onto the "normal" context connoting human warmth, having seemingly succumbed to existential fatigue.

The name of the series - Darling - highlights the domestic servitude expected of the Korean housewife, sardonically pointing to the price women pay for desiring independence.


>>> critic's review (footnote #2)