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Wendy Jacob and Jin Lee
Chicago Project Room, Chicago, IL
Art In America, April 1999
Susan Snodgrass

Throughout the history art, the image of the recumbent female has been a site for male objectification and fantasy. In a two-person show pairing the work of sculptor Wendy Jacob and photographer Jin Lee, the reclining figure is liberated from this problematic lineage and repositioned within the realms of science, nature and the subconscious. Although somewhat sparse, this exhibition was the gallery’s strongest to date.

The Midwestern landscape is the setting for Lee’s "Sleep" series (1997-98), six s (all 30 by 40 inches) in which solitary women rest quietly amid expansive, open fields. slumbering, clothed figure lies either face down or on her side, seemingly at peace within another world, so that we are keenly aware of our role as intruders. There is a strong emphasis on the horizontal in these works, as prone human form, placed centrally, parallels the flat plains that surround it. The relationship between body and landscape seems harmonious, natural in all but one image — that of a lone woman, her identity obscured by purple wildflowers and over grown grasses, stretched out at the opening of a looming thicket of trees. This dark scene, reminiscent of Duchamp’s Etant Donnes, is more threatening than bucolic, a place where dreams may become nightmares, where sleep can simulate death or abandonment.

In both Lee’s and Jacob’s works, the reclining body, whether sleeping or hugged, is delivered to a private, psychic space free from imposed societal and sexual codes. The resulting images of calm repose gently recall Walt Whitman’s line "How solemn they look there, stretch’d and still!"