The winner of the 2011 Sovereign Asian Art Prize talks to Louise Choi about her ongoing project.
Modest, polite and a little shy in person, JeongMee Yoon seems to exude a similar kind of girlish charm to her winning piece at the Sovereign Asia Art Prize, titled The Pink Project II – Lauren & Carolyn and Their Pink & Purple Things. Born in Seoul, Korea, in 1969, the artist began working on her first Pink and Blue project in 2005, documenting the obsession that little girls have with the colour pink and, similarly, boys have with blue. The Pink and Blue Project II, which Yoon has been working on since 2009, follows the same children from the first project as they grow up with gradually changing tastes and belongings.
In Yoon’s winning piece, a pair of twins, Lauren and Carolyn, sit face to face with each other, and the photograph easily stands out with its symmetry of colours. The toys, clothes and accessories are either in pink or purple – respectively the favourite colour of the two sisters. “Consciously or unconsciously, it impacts children,” says the artist of the systemised gender division that the materialistic society calls for, “so they run [with] a colour-coded identity. I think we don’t need that kind of custom.”
Yoon’s interest in the subject was initially sparked by her daughter’s obsession with the colour pink at the age of five. Now that her daughter is 13, she seems to like all sorts of colours and, oddly enough, despises pink. “When I was young, there was no pink stuff,” says the artist. “Well, not really like this. We just played with dolls and didn’t think about the colour.” She does, however, plan to follow all her ‘models’ in her project until they’re adults. “Their taste and belongings are related to our modern society – and it expresses their identities.”
Surprisingly, Yoon’s working method for this photography series is relatively straightforward. She simply goes up to the parents of pink or purple-clad children on the streets – and asks. The setting-up process for each photograph, which takes place at the children’s home, takes between six and eight hours. “When I go to their home there are [usually] only a few pink things [on display],” says Yoon of the staging part of her work. “But I draw [things] out from the drawers – and from many places. That’s why it seems like there’re so many things, [so] spectacular. Actually, it’s a kind of trick!”
For updates on the Sovereign Art Foundation, visit www.sovereignartfoundation.com.