Dr. Zun Lee is an award-winning visual storyteller, physician and educator who divides his time between Canada and the US. He was born and raised in Germany and has also lived in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Chicago. His work investigates quotidian life in Black domestic spaces - both as the locus of intimacy and belonging and as the site of erasure and displacement.
Originally trained as a neuroscientist and after nearly two decades in management consulting, the 2020 Guggenheim Fellow initially focused his visual arts endeavors on street photography and long-form visual storytelling. Lee is best known for his immersive photo-ethnographic projects of Black family life that often subvert mainstream representations of Blackness and Black bodies. In his work, ephemeral moments of everyday life codify shared meaning around Black identity and belonging, but he is also interested in how shared meaning is complicated and disrupted as images of Black sociality circulate outside of their original context of production.
Lee has since expanded into archival and orphan works, social practice and placekeeping, and creative writing. Constantly looking for ways to create collaboratively beyond photography, Lee examines the complex role of digital technologies and virtual/social media as tools that mitigate (but also perpetuate) power imbalances in the representation of marginalized communities. Through an intersectional and interdisciplinary lens, Lee foregrounds issues of visual literacy and structural competency, as well as ethics and consent in an increasingly crowdsourced, virtualized and surveilled content environment.
Lee has exhibited, spoken and taught at numerous institutions in North America and Europe. His works are widely published and represented in public and private collections around the world.
Selected honors and awards include: Guggenheim Fellow (2020), Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Practitioner in Residence (2019), Knight Foundation Grantee (2018), Magnum Foundation Fellow (2015), Photo District News Photo Annual Winner (2015), Paris Photo/Aperture Photobook Awards Shortlist (2014), Photo District News’ 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch (2014).