Hanna Moon and Joyce Ng: English As A Second Language
This winter, Somerset House presents a photography exhibition by two of the most exciting photographers working in fashion today. Employing an otherworldly and playful approach to their practice, Hanna Moon and Joyce Ng incorporate fashion, cultural signifiers and set design to present their unique take on Western aesthetics and fashion ideals. Their work questions the age-old approaches to race, gender and sexuality in afresh perspective, through thought-provoking images that encourage viewers to take a second look.
Curated by Shonagh Marshall, the exhibition explores the notion of being ‘lost in translation’, a feeling which, as artists living in a foreign city navigating different languages and shifting landscapes, both Moon and Ng are familiar with.
“How have the shifts in the world been represented in fashion photography? It’s the most fertile place to start looking. Contemporary art takes longer to particulate whereas fashion photography is prolific - it’s constantly shifting.” Shonagh Marshall, Fashion Curator
Born in South Korea and based in London, Hanna Moon is an artist, photographer and the founder of A Nice Magazine. Upon entering the first room of the exhibition, visitors will find ‘Heejin and Moffy’, a collection of images of Moon’s two muses: Moffy, from London, and Heejin, from South Korea. Moon rebelliously ‘invaded’ Somerset House at night with them to create this series of work. The sets and objects she chose reflect her personal experiences of living in the UK and we are presented with a dramatic and playful reimagining of Somerset House’s neoclassical setting.
“In the end I bought two of my best friends in. One I always shoot in nude and we just make fun of things. The other Korean friend has just given birth, so she doesn’t have the ‘perfect’ body. So that felt like the perfect idea - not being too serious but shooting two interesting women.” Hanna Moon
English as a Second Language continues with work from Joyce Ng, a London-based fashion photographer with an eye for street-casting, who has created fashion images for the likes of Modern Weekly, i-D and Dazed. Joyce cast solely from Somerset House’s vibrant community across a six-week period, inviting visitors and residents with no prior modelling experience to take part in a series of shoots on-site. Drawing inspiration from the Chinese novel Journey to the West, a story of a fabled pilgrimage of a Buddhist monk journeying West, Joyce showcases a fragmented narrative by shooting subjects in the hidden spaces of Somerset House, who have also experienced similar feelings of cultural assimilation.
“In the beginning I wasn’t sure if I was going to get what I needed just casting in Somerset House. I soon started to realise there was a huge spectrum of people that pass through Somerset House every day.” Joyce Ng
As well as captivating subjects and settings, the exhibition features some distinctive fashion moments with pieces from renowned designers including Vivienne Westwood, Philip Treacy, Molly Goddard and Yohji Yamamoto – to name a few.
“Running throughout the exhibition there’s an idea of beauty. When you’re looking at these subjects there’s something deep within that’s intangible. It’s nothing to do with the symmetry of their face, it’s more energy focused and that really strikes me.” Shonagh Marshall, Curator
Finally, the exhibition finishes with a fashion photography archive of Moon and Ng’s work from the past four years. By showcasing their work side by side in their original print form, we are presented with a fresh new wave of image making that celebrates differing world views.
Hanna Moon & Joyce NG: English As A Second Language is on until 28th April.