깜둥이 (read: Kam-Doong-Yi, 'Negro' is an approximate equivalent to the english but I named the series 'The Blacks' in English, 2009)
What I want to deal with by doing this work is racism. More specifically, racism against non-koreans among koreans. Korea is an 'extreme' racist country. The racism is not usually expressed in extreme forms like murder, assault or terrorism, but most Koreans think that Korean is a homegeneous ethnic group and take it for granted that it is OK to discriminate anybody who are not in the Korean group. In this sense, Korea is surely an extreme racist country.
The reason that made me think like this is my time in the UK where I stayed nearly 2 years to learn English. At that time, I would meet a lot of Korean students there, and one of the most common theme of our conversation was the racism against Koreans happening there. They would express their feelings of unfairness and unhappiness over such racism. But, the funny thing is, they, nearly at the same time, would say something racist against the people from other parts of Asia-generally excluding 'more developed' Japan-, Africa, eastern Europe or South America. On the contrary, they would put English-spoken whites or the people from comparatively more developed countries on a pedestal. Unfortunately, I don't know whether it was just coincidence, most of the Koreans, all the Koreans as far as I remember, I met there were like that.
I took it that they didn't know what racism was and whether it was wrong.
Initially I thought they were just morally ignorant and immature, so I hated them, loathed them, and tried to avoid them. After some time passed, it suddenly came to me that most of them being like that is not their fault, but the society's.
The society whose economy has developed quite greatly, but the people have been exposed to the outside world very little, if not, the exposure hasn't been enough to make them understand that people with different ethnic origin have the same human rights as them.
The society where the phrase 'Korea is a homogeneous ethnic country' is nationally used to emphasize social unity and ethnic pride.
The society where differences are not accepted and the differences are taken as something strange or abnormal.
So, my strategy to tackle the issue of the racism is 'friendly and Korean-friendly exposure'
The strategy in which the differences of different ethnics are shown less differently-only more dark-skinned than average Koreans- in more familiar a way-in the shapes of Korean people- and in more friendly a way -with their bright facial expressions.
The exposure to these kinds of work will affect Korean people's subconscious and the people's attitude to people of different ethnic origins will be gradually changed more favorably.
The dark skin in this series doesn't just only mean black people. It means dark-skinned people and people of comparatively less developed countries. In a broad sense, it is anybody who is not Korean or any Korean who is different from other koreans in some way. In the broadest sense, it is anybody with whom you are not familiar.
I hadn't prearranged the models to sit for me, but they happened to be around the place where I was shooting for this project. I didn't ask them whether they were Korean. I think I should have, but I didn't know they could be non-Korean. They were not like non-Korean in any sense. The skin colour in this series is computer-generated.