True Colors: Clothes and Things of Boys and Girls in Jeongmee Yoon’s Project
Photographer Jeongmee Yoon from South Korea photographs American and Korean children in their rooms, buried in pink or blue things. The Pink & Blue Project started from trying to understand if it’s true that girls like one color and boys another, or have they been socialized into liking them since they were born, and developed into reflecting on how in different countries of the globalized world people consume the same things.
Born and lives in Seoul. Studied Painting at Seoul National University and Photographic Design at Hong-Ik University in South Korea. In 2006, graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Currently is a lecturer at Seoul National University and Kookmin University. The Pink & Blue Project was exhibited in South Korea, the US, China, Spain, and other countries.
When my daughter was about five, she liked everything pink so much, it made no sense to offer her clothes or toys of a different color. With time, she grew out of it — naturally, like many other girls.
Trying to understand whether girls are indeed born to like pink, and boys are born to like blue, or is it the propaganda of toy-making companies that has influenced them, is like trying to find out what came first — a hen, or an egg. On the other hand, there are so many things of these colors in advertisements and in shops that it is difficult for children to decide what they really like.
Korea is no different than other countries from this perspective. It is one of the reasons why people from all over the world can identify with my project. Lately though, more expensive Korean brands tend not to divide their products into ‘for girls’ and ‘for boys’, they have more clothes and school supplies with gender-neutral colors. However, in cheaper shops the division remains.
I’ve been doing The Pink & Blue Project for more than 10 years. Accessories, clothes, makeup, hair — all these are documentary evidence of the epoch. Now I don’t think about showing the tendency to prefer pink or blue things — all of these children have grown, and their tastes are now much more varied. I want to document the toys or the subculture that they were in, and what the typical room of a child looks like in our time.
I photograph only the things that really belong to my heroes. It takes between 4 to 8 hours to shoot one child, sometimes a bit longer than that. In Korea I mostly worked with families of friends or friends of friends, but in America it was more often that I photographed children I didn’t know. Some of my models I found through the Internet, but mostly I just met parents and children in shops. I’ve shown them the photos I’ve already taken and a short description of my project.
Nowadays most toys and school supplies in any country of the world have been manufactured by global companies.
Children from different countries watch the same animations and choose pyjamas with the same characters. They sleep under the same blankets, and they may even see similar dreams.
And still, it’s a pity big companies dominate the market and the souls of children, while local features disappear.
Parents immediately understand the meaning I put in my photographs. The Pink & Blue Project makes you notice how our society gets hung up on certain things, and notice we live in a global consumerist world. My project has a very clear visual message. I hope it can make people think and gradually change their habits.