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3 minutes with PAYNK


PAYNK (Sharon Yang)

PAYNK (Sharon Yang)

What or who is PAYNK? Why PAYNK?

PAYNK is an artist name which I have been using since I was a teenager. It is an altered spelling of ‘pink’, my favourite colour. Somehow I just like words with 5 letters and beginning with P. I used to write it in glitter glue all over my bags and shoes, and had done many blog templates with this artist name. Now I use it only to sign off works that I’m proud of.

2. When or where did you first encounter fasciation, and how did this interest in the subject start?
It was when a friend shared a photo of a fasciated daisy on Facebook. I thought it looked so alien and intriguing, I just kept looking for pictures of fasciated plants. There was a point in time when I had a dream of setting up a floral boutique selling only fasciated plants but through research I learnt that it’s a very rare phenomenon that cannot really be reproduced, and through experience I learnt that I am hopeless at growing any plants. So now I turn to drawing them.

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Image: Wikipedia

3. In your artist statement you said “Man is never satisfied with normal”. Is this something you’ve personally come across?
In the context of objects of desire, I feel that most would want to possess something that is rare, exotic, or unpredictable, rather than something that is perceived as ‘normal’ at the moment. The first time I started to think about the idea of desiring objects that are out of the norm was when a friend told me that he no longer liked a certain band because they have become mainstream and popular. I found it ridiculous at first, not understanding how his personal taste could be affected by the tastes of others, but I have gradually come to find that to be the case for many, including myself, in one way or another. And in this day and age where everything is available online, I can imagine that desires will become more and more niche and deviant.

4. What’s an example of a ‘mutation for the sake of beauty’, other than fasciation, that you have come across?
I find that many kinds of mutation are so commonly appreciated that we don’t think of it as mutations anymore, and I don’t mean this in a bad way for many cases. Some are naturally occurring but purposefully perpetuated by humans, like the folded ears of some cats, and abnormally short legs of many kinds of animals. Others are just man-made to begin with, like extremely manicured English gardens with bushes reshaped into balls and deers, or even body modifications. Fasciation is neither man-made or replicable by man at will, so I found it all the more fascinating.

5. It seems like you’ve always been interested in fetishes. A long time ago you actually invited me to participate in a project where you were collecting interviews about people’s fetishes. Do you have a personal fetish?

It was for a school project, to produce a zine on any topic, so we created a magazine called ‘SICK’ and chose the topic of ‘fetish’ for the first (and only) issue. I was researching on words describing different fetishes and found that there’s a fetish for almost anything. I began to think about how there’s such a thin line between love and fetishism, especially when it came to terms like ‘Abasiophilia’ – sexual interest in people with impaired mobility. The interest in this aspect of fetishism was what inspired this series of works.

As for me, while I love many things a lot, I don’t consider myself to have a fetish for anything, as I think I’m quite incapable of being extreme. This is perhaps why I’m so interested in the extremism and fetishism of others.

Detail, "The Emergence of Brood III"

Detail, “The Emergence of Brood III”

6. Is it right to say this series seems a departure from your main body of work, in some ways – with sculptures and coloured details. Do you feel your practice is changing as an artist?
I actually think this series represents my work as an artist really well. It’s a combination of my two favourite subject matters – plants and the female form. This collaboration with SPRMRKT actually began when Sue-Shan (SPRMRKT Founder and Managing Partner) was interested in the illustrations that I did for a book ‘The Emergence of Brood III’ published by Delere Press, and the main man of Delere Press, Jeremy Fernando, put us together for this wonderful project to happen. Those illustrations were pretty much like what I did – colourful, detailed and strange plants – sans human.

But yes, sculpture work is a new dimension to what I’ve done so far and I’m glad that I found time to explore this medium further with this series. My clay works used to be kitschy little knick-knacks that I make for fun and gifts, but I now see the potential of it being another way to tell stories. I would say that it’s an expansion rather than a change.

From the 'Stilettos' series

PAYNK, ‘Stilettos’, 2017

7. Could you tell us a bit about the ‘Stilettos’ series? That exhibition sale was in support of AWARE Singapore and Daughters of Tomorrow. What are you thoughts on gender equality and how do you express it? Do you think women and men are equal or treated fairly?

Interesting that you asked about it! The references I used for ‘Stilettos’ were the same as the ones I used for ‘Fasciation: A Ruthless Fetish’. I found it quite funny that when Jaclyn, who so kindly posed for a then-stranger like me, had to crawl on her knees between poses in her 10-inch high heels. Yet when she began posing, it was so powerful and graceful. Those heels are not only physically crippling (I won’t be able to stand in them for even two seconds) they also carry crippling connotations. For starters, they are commonly called slut heels. But they can also serve to empower, exhibit strength and  boost confidence, whether it’s a woman or a man who is wearing them. I think that both men and women are bound by many expectations and guidelines, and those who happen to fall outside of these expectations suffer equally, and I think that needs to be changed. Women should not be judged for being housewives or pornstars or tomboys, and men should not be judged for being gamers or crossdressers or babysitters. I think people should not be defined by their genders, and should just be treated kindly as human beings. People who find pride and meaning in any way that they deem fit for themselves should be acknowledged and respected as individuals.

8. What can we expect from PAYNK in 2018?
I have an illustrated book that I had been working on, about a mayfly who defied expectations, which I hope to publish in 2018. I am also working on a Youtube channel on which I want to discuss art related topics with other artists, as well as explore some of the subcultures and niche industries in Singapore.


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