Captives / Adamas 2021

In contrast to the “fake” diamonds used to produce Fugazi (2016), the gems pictured in Captives/Adamas (2020) are genuine diamonds of high quality and price. In these photographs, however, the diamonds appear in an unfamiliar form—they are uncut. Through extensive focus and exposure stacking—a macro-photography technique where limited depth-of-field requires areas of exposure and focus to be composited together—Lee captures these otherworldly rough gems as objects of great value that have yet to come into existence. This idea of the “yet-to-emerge” is reflected in the first half of the title, Captives, which refers to Michelangelo’s unfinished sculptures, where partially carved figures emerge from rough, untouched marble. The second half points to the Greek origin of the word “diamond”: Adamas, meaning “invincible, indestructible and unyielding.” The duality produced by these two seemingly disparate words suggests the paradoxical values we hold in contemporary culture: captive, yet emergent; indestructible, yet unformed—manifesting in cultural obsessions with eternal youth and power. (Kate Henderson)