NATIVE SOUTH KOREAN PHOTOGRAPHER YOONG JANG, IS QUESTIONNING IDENTITY, FREEDOM AND SEXUALITY OF A YOUNG GENERATION THROUGH HER RAW PHOTOGRAPHIC WORK. THE ARTIST WON THE FIRST DIOR PHOTOGRAPHY AWARDS AND WAS EXHIBITED AT MEP IN PARIS ALONGSIDE COCO CAPITAN AND REN HANG. READ OUR INTERVIEW TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HER WORK AND DREAMS.
What first got you into photography? When I was really young, I had a lot of dreams of my future life. Every year, my dream would change, but there’s one thing that would never be altered: I wanted to be an artist! Initially I wanted to be a movie director, but sad story, in South Korea you need great mathematics scores for the national college entrance exam and I was really bad at maths. That let me down a bit but my interest in photography came up suddenly. Every process was very interesting to me therefore I entered photography art school to learn fine art and photography.
How would you describe your photographic style? Raw, rough but tidy. It’s really funny because my personality is not that rough or bold but I guess I always wanted to break down that soft side of myself in my subconscious. But you know, personality doesn’t change easily. I’m attracted by rough aesthetic, but my inner side is still tidy. So that’s why my works looks both raw and tidy. I guess this contrast gave my photography its unique style. And I really love to be natural in everything I do, especially in my personal work. I believe not being fake always win.
“We’re living in a world that is confused and full of problems, but it’s important to not lose ourselves in this mess. So keep loving our loved ones and just enjoy our trip.”
What message do you want to convey through your work? To find myself in this lovely ego trip. I think every moment of my life is an ego trip to find myself. I used to want to give up at every obstacle, and I kept pushing so hard questioning myself a lot like ‘What do I want to be?’ ‘Who am I?’ etc… But one day, I decided to quit asking myself those questions. I don’t want to waste my time worriying about what didn’t happen yet. No one knows what tomorrow is made of. By accepting that, I was able to enjoy the present moment. That doesn’t mean just being lazy like there’s no tomorrow, but I just don’t want to worry about bad things that could happen in the future. We are all full of possibilities, and we can make our own tomorrow. So don’t let anxiety guide your life. Instead live as you want and trust what you’ve done so far. We need to face our weaknesses and understand that its a natural thing. I believe that being a real version of me is the best way to express myself. We’re living in a world that is confused and full of problems, but it’s important to not lose ourselves in this mess. So keep loving our loved ones and just enjoy our trip.
You’re from Seoul and you lived in berlin for a while. How has Berlin shaped your work? My life in Berlin changed me a lot. Before I came there, I was a bit confused about myself and my work, which are rather conflicted as they’re quite opposite. I used to have a lot of anxiety, which pushed me to stay in my comfort zone, but still i was passionate to break free from my familiar state. How ironic! I guess Berlin pushed me to grow up a bit more and think differently. It encouraged me to be brave, and little by little, it increased my confidence and finally I got a clue about how i wanted to live my life.
As a Korean woman, have you faced a lot of issues in Berlin? Yes definitely!! First time I came to Berlin, I was literally shocked. Because As a young asian woman, living in a foreign country is quite adventurous and you need a lot of determination to stand against these issues. I never had this kind of sexism and harrasment experience before Berlin. I had no clue how to react at it. At first, I was fighting a lot but that got me tired, so i just started to ignore these people instead. I Still don’t exactly know what I should do whenever I face these issues. Nevertheless, I love this city. I met so many sweet people and friends that keep me alive and make me feel free.
“I used to have a lot of anxiety, which pushed me to stay in my comfort zone, but still I was passionate to break free from my familiar state.”
You’ve been exhibited alongside Ren Hang and Coco Capitan at MEP paris. How did this amazing project come about? After Dior prix event, Simon Baker, the Director of MEP, suggested this opportunity to me. He saw my work and really liked it. So MEP decided to include my Dior project together with my previous personal work. And for me timing was really good as well. MEP was planning to start a new program for 2019 and the first runners of this lovely journey were Ren Hang, Coco Capitan and me.
How was that experience for you ? I love Ren Hang and Coco Capitan so I was really happy to hang my works on the wall with them. Working with MEP was the best experience for me. Everyone was really nice and everything went very well! As a young asian artist, It was a fantastic chance to share and show my work in a public space in Paris. I never expected that I could share my Seoul Generation’s life in paris. Exhibiting in Europe was one of my biggest dream ever and I made a first footprint which I will never forget about.
For the Dior prize for young talents, you created a series of portraits of women, giving your personal vision of femininity & beauty. Tell us what that vision is? No typical standards needed. Everyone has their own personality and no one should ignore or judge. We need to respect each others. And If you find what you love, then express it efficiently as you wish. I believe women got their own backbone in common. And we need to keep going, with that strong purpose for equality. We can do anything! Now the world is changing faster and faster than ever, and many people are aware of which way we should go. Still there’s some things to grow and develop but we’re making positive steps. As a young female artist, I want to share my voice with my work. That is the best way i can go as an artist now.
Who/what is your biggest inspiration ? Myself and my personal experience are my biggest source of inspiration. But also Seoul and Berlin.
What’s next for you ? I’m working on my new project and maybe I can do more shows soon 🙂