press release

NEW YORK, August 2003—For The Tourist, the 80th exhibition in MoMA's Projects series, the artist Lee Mingwei (Taiwanese, b. 1964), in partnership with the public, explores the idea of tourism as a radical form of world citizenship. Earlier this summer Lee issued an open call for “tour guides” to take him—the “tourist”—to sites of their choosing around New York’s ethnically diverse neighborhoods. Participants selected Coney Island, Tribeca, and the Apollo Theater in Harlem, among other places, and some tours have already taken place. Both tourist and guides document their experiences in digital snapshots and record their conversations on tape. Lee's installation, on view at MoMA QNS from September 25 to November 24, 2003, will change on a weekly basis during the course of the exhibition as more tours are conducted. The installation comprises side-by-side projections of the photographic stills, fragments of the conversations, and keepsakes from the tours. The artist demonstrates that sightseeing is the product of a series of actions in which artist and public, local and visitor, and past and present continually overlap. The Tourist is organized by Roxana Marcoci, Assistant Curator, Department of Photography.

Marcoci states: “In The Tourist, Lee Mingwei articulates travel as a form of community that imagines alternative possibilities of togetherness outside the national space. Tourists and locals are the crucibles of a new type of community that is not exclusively nationalist but cosmopolitan.” For this exhibition, Lee identifies himself as a tourist within the greater New York metropolis. By virtue of his position he is able to introduce viewers to new perspectives. Taiwan, or for that matter any other place the artist calls home, is not just a place "out there." It is also part of an international circuit that includes New York. By keeping explicit ties with more than one place at a time, Lee interprets travel as a wider mode of belonging in the world.

The exhibition is made possible by Yageo Foundation, Taiwan. Additional funding is provided by National Culture and Arts Foundation, Taiwan.

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Projects 80
Lee Mingwei, The Tourist
Kurator: Roxana Marcoci