Girl To Know: Photographer Alex Leese
Written by Elena Chen
A bi-cultural photographer, documenter, and reverter of stereotypical fixations, Alex Leese is the artist of both Hong Kong and British descent behind the zine The Boys of Hong Kong. The delicacy in her photographic capture is evident in her imagery portraying masculinity in the modern age, as highlighted by the likes of i-D and It’s Nice That. In contesting the masculine ideal Leese freezes moments of intimacy and connection that show how more than anything, beyond the notions of effeminacy and obedience, Asian men are human beings who share affection and question identity.
Originally set out to study Fine Art at the Chelsea College of Art, Leese transferred to the London College of Fashion to study Fashion Photography and has been involved in video production as well since. Her most recent series release is in collaboration with Helmut Lang featuring “Women of Wales”.
The series explores the voices of women who are linked to Wales in personally varied but irrefutably significant ways. The women express emotional ties to the place and the role Wales has played in their lives, an anchored-ness tethered to their heartstrings.
“Women of Wales” may differ from The Boys of Hong Kong in many overt ways, in the gender of subject matter and in the language of articulation, but the fundamental message of identity formation remains apparent and unwavering. Lesse is on the lookout: who are we? What are we made of? Where do we belong?
Her training in fashion photography and musings from fine art manifest in the elegant compositions and soft hues of her aesthetic but Leese’s poignancy is sourced in the same existential questions human beings have been asking for centuries. As the struggle for her own identity between being British and Chinese has become part of her artistic creation, the work of Leese helps those of us who wonder about our inherent us-ness place a material reality to the quest. Here is a photographer who is unafraid to give representation to this struggle, whether that of man or woman, young or old.