title. Millennial + Pink
name. Alex Sy-Quia
right now. Third year studying German and History abroad in FU Berlin, Germany
For this millennial pink edition, I really wanted to put together more of a substantial photo project as opposed to just picking out a bunch of photos that happened to showcase the odd splash of pink. The first step I took towards this was to separate the millennial from the pink. Millennial pink is boring and overdone– a pink that is millennial on the other hand was an idea I could get behind. I spent a decent amount of time talking to friends about what a ‘millennial’ pink would look like and what a millennial aesthetic could be. This exercise proved quite new to me as my usual aim when it comes to taking pictures is to capture the atmosphere as-is and make it tangible to the viewer. In this case I was tasked with making my own atmosphere.
With a very loose idea in mind, I began scouting for locations and in characteristic millennial fashion I started with Google. After fruitlessly looking through Berlin’s 173 U-Bahn stations on Wikipedia for nice pink tiling (BVG you really need to fix this, how fun would a pink U-Bahn station be?) I came across some pictures of an abandoned children’s hospital in East Berlin, in which there was a room covered with pink hearts! I quickly got a bunch of friends together to make sure that the room in question was still there (the pictures I had seen were from 2009 so I was worried that someone might have defaced my potential photo spot). To great relief everything was- despite a considerable amount of rubble and dust- intact! I then surprised myself by managing to convince three kind friends to model for me a week or so later. In the meantime, I attempted to come up with some semi-coherent themes for the shoot as well as key ideas. The idea of claiming a millennial aesthetic was one that appealed to me: wearing vulnerabilities on one’s sleeve, walking a tightrope between distance and intimacy, capturing pink’s playful side- all of these were being juggled in the back of my mind. In addition, I was inspired by my friend James Garn’s photo essay on the ‘Male Gaze and Social Media’, in which he tried, amongst other things, to distance himself from the ‘male’ way in which he would usually take people’s portraits, by asking his subjects to direct him. Now I of course knew there was no way for me to do away with my ‘male gaze’ either; however, the thought of consciously trying to invert heteronormative dynamics in photography was a more realistic goal. Moreover, the idea of asking my models for as much input as possible, so as to make the whole creative process a collaborative one, was one that I could not pass up.
The photos above are the direct result of that collaborative process. We went to the abandoned Kinderkrankenhaus on a sunny but unfortunately very cold day. I pitched my ideas to the group, we chatted about it, drank Rotkäppchen (the champagne of the East/GDR), took some pictures and attempted not to lose too many of our limbs to frostbite. This was my first time organizing an actual photo shoot so I would like to thank them from the bottom of my heart for their patience and participation. I hope you enjoy my Millennial + Pink project, I have given an inkling of its artistic ambitions here but would like it to speak for itself.
Were you listening to music when you created this piece?
Rina Sawayama’s Rina EP and Cocteau Twins- Cherry Coloured Funk.
Here is the link for James Garn’s The Male Gaze and Social Media
Special thanks to Hugo, Nat and Hannah x