In recent years, Nikki S. Lee has received considerable acclaim for her work as she infiltrates, Zelig-like, into the manners, mores, and cultivated surfaces of everyday identities and communities. Each of the people she portrays reveals habits and characteristics mapped out in the quick sketch of a few snapshots. The result reads like a multi-layered film, with the leading role of each sub-plot belonging to Lee.
In turning the pages, one imagines a series of parallel universes set in motion based on Lee's careful choice and adaptation of dress, hair styles, gesture, and even of body types. When first encountered in The Tourist Project, Lee presents us with a portrait of herself as a classic Asian tourist on a safari of iconic hotspots in New York, from the Statue of Liberty to the David Letterman Show. With circumspect study in each subsequent project, Lee is able to become, momentarily, a young Latina in Brooklyn, a skateboarder jumping the curbs of San Francisco, a mid-western chick from Ohio, a well-adjusted yuppie working on Wall Street. Lee has received well-deserved attention for her work and for her ability to decipher the codes of individual identity and community belonging, and to graft each set of codes, if only temporarily, onto herself.