Valley of the Dolls: The Work of Park Seoung

7.3.14 ShaSha LaPerf 1 Comments

Wow it's been forever since I've written one of these posts! As I said in my last blog post, life has really been getting in the way right now so the blog has gone on the back-burner for a while. I am working on a few posts, I probably won't get back to a regular posting schedule anytime soon either.

So initially this started as a little blurb on I was going to post on Facebook, but when I realized I had written about three paragraphs, I figured I'd go ahead and make this a full blog post, LOL. So this isn't going to be a long post, but it's going to be picture heavy!

So this post is about the work of Park Seoung. There's very little info about him. He has a Flickr and a blog, but he doesn't seem to actually write a lot outside of maybe a few comments in English and Korean. Anyway, I'm sure some of you have seen this picture. I spotted this last year in nerd related FB groups as well as a Natural Hair group I was apart of:



And it made its way into a Buzzfeed post. That's a Michonne doll from The Walking Dead. Seoung is the man who created her. I'm guessing he took used a ball jointed doll to create her and added his own painted touches, hair, and clothes to finish it. And it's pretty amazing! Seriously I would love to own this. There are more pics of the doll here

Anyway, after seeing the doll I decided to take a lot of Seoung 's Flickr and was in awe at the number of very beautiful dolls he had created. Dolls of all colors!


There are dolls like Zooey and Drake:




Asin and Shiro:

 



And Vivienne and Fredrik:





He even has a few celebrity dolls like Grace JonesRihanna, Ken Watanabe, Cher, Naomi Campbell, Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie, and a sexy Mr. T. Seriously that's one sexy Mr. T!!!

I can only imagine the amount of time and work that goes into making each one of these. I spent a lot of time going through the photos because I loved looking at the details in them. It's just so cool to see someone creating dolls of so many different colors, even taking note of different facial features.

Then the dolls got more...interesting...

There's Voodoo:




And Karaba:




When I first saw those three dolls I didn't know how to react. There was a mix of "wow these dolls are freaking beautiful" and "why do the representations of the "African" dolls have their boobs out?" to "Voodoo doll? Whut?" I think like the other dolls these dolls are gorgeous. Karaba has an especially fierce look on her face that would make Tyra Banks oh so proud. The Voodoo doll especially threw me off since it's completely naked. In fact I think this is the only doll that is totally naked in the whole group. And I was also wary of the "African" dolls because few of the non-African and lighter-skinned dolls were topless. There's a version of the Grace Jones doll who has boobs exposed, then again I think Jones was never really shy about nudity--just Google "Grace Jones" and "nudity".


It's funny because had it just been these three dolls, I probably would've found myself more upset about it. After all, the exploitation of black bodies isn't new. Shoot a lot of people still don't realize Africa is a continent, not a country. Just a quick search of "African women" on Google image immediately leads to images similar to what Seoung created. And seeing as blackface/Africanface, cool hipster "ethnic fashion," and a lack of women of color on the runways is still a thing, I had a knee-jerk reaction to this. Sadly, I don't know enough about African cultures to place where they're supposed to be from (but if any of my readers know I'm all ears). Seoung has so many different representations of people in his work, probably even more than what's on the actual runway, LOL. Yes there is a serious lack of body diversity, but I'll chalk that up to the doll molds themselves--and that's a whole other issue. I'm just hoping that dolls like Nnaji and Karaba are supposed to represent a real group of people in Africa and not just "Africa" as a whole.  Voodoo is a whole other thing I'm still trying to wrap my head around.

Seoung's blog and Flickr don't explain his motivation or inspirations behind a lot of the dolls, but I'm curious to hear about his doll-making decisions. I definitely appreciate seeing all these different kinds of dolls even if my initial reactions towards Voodoo, Karaba, and Nnaji were not as positive. As for that Michonne doll:


So what are your thoughts on Seong and the dolls? Are they made of awesomeness? Are you also wary of dolls like Voodoo and Karaba?

1 comment:

  1. I am pleasantly surprised that all of the black dolls were so exquisitely made. I think Voodoo is the most beautiful of the dolls. She represents strength to me. The fact that they are exposed did not enter my mind until it was mentioned. It is not an issue for me at all. I think his work is a form of true artistry and the black image is positively represented here.

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