THEME #43Winners2023MAR





This is a project capturing strangers that are middle-aged men and older, who are often categorized as “Ajeossi,” a term for a middle-aged man in Korean. The moment they are labeled as an “Ajeossi,” they are no longer viewed as individuals, but as those who seem to arbitrarily fit in this quintessential idea of a man in their 40-60s. Frankly, they were too uniquely themselves to be pigeonholed as, “Ajeossi". Then, who are they? What are they into? I wanted to focus on them as a subject who happened to be “boomers,” not as “Ajeossi” as the Korean society has instilled in us.


Haneul Lee

Haneul Lee(b.1994, Seoul, South Korea) uses photography as an interface for exploring various modes of relationships between herself and others. Her works are often inspired by the subtle insecurities arising during her interactions with strangers, such as Strangers, whereby she documented about 400 people and subsequently a new project Boomers. She is intrigued by how our transition into the digital era has impacted photography and is constantly studying linkages
between images and the world we live in. She received her B.F.A. in Photography from Kyungil University in Daegu in 2017 and subsequently an M.F.A. in Photography from Hongik University Faculty of Design in Seoul in 2021.

Jury selection

This series itself was not shot specifically for the theme of this exhibition, but it is an eye-catching group of works that questioned the meaning of "anonymous" in the artist's own mind and sublimated it to include this theme.
I myself would be classified as an "ajossi," but I think that the social roles of this group are often typical (boss, father, etc.), and asserting one's individuality against other age groups is often seen as a threat. Of course, the ajossi themselves are also more willing to counteract their individuality and differentiate themselves from others because of the emphasis on their ability to conform to society. On the other hand, it is also true that there are more detailed, experienced, and accumulated tastes and preferences that are kept within the bounds of social harm.

The artist has succeeded in capturing this fine-grained personal assertion in her photographs. While maintaining their individual anonymity, the ajossi in the photos are quietly asserting themselves to the camera by donning the exteriors and attitudes of movie stars, heroes, and villains that symbolize their times, and these appear to further enhance the degree of anonymity. I chose the "Boomers" series for the Grand Prix because it is a very good contemporary answer to "anonymous photography.




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