For Korean photographer Wonjun Jeong, a blanket is essentially a barrier that can shield you from the chaos of life; it offers a moment of respite that allows for introspective clarity and recognition of one’s humble existence in the greater context of the world. At the same time, it forces a personal confrontation with feelings of futility, fear, relief, boredom, anxiety, and the suffocating nature of reality. His new photo series, The Comforter, depicting an unidentifiable subject wrapped up in a white duvet, captures all of these feelings in a quirky, unusual way.
《The Comforter》是来自韩国摄影师 Wonjun Jeong 的系列摄影作品，照片的主体是包裹在一条被子里部分裸露的人体。而正是通过这种遮挡自己视线的方式，Wonjun 试图以向内的审视来认清自己卑微的存在，并从日常生活中，甚至可说是从令人窒息的现实中，向人们传达出徒劳、恐惧、解脱和焦虑之感。
Jeong has often been haunted by a sense of apprehension, dread, and boredom. When overwhelmed by these feelings, he would retreat to his bed. The bed and duvet essentially became a sanctuary for him. Festering within, these negative emotions ultimately became the catalyst for The Comforter. “During that period in my life, I’d often just lie in bed and pull up the blanket over my head. At first, these emotions I felt would then spread internally, tormenting and confining me. But I began to wonder whether the feelings truly originated due to my own internal problem or due to my external influences. But within my blanket, I would begin to feel relief. Nobody can see me and nothing can influence me. I think the boredom and negative feelings I experienced was because I felt trapped by society. When I’m alone, I felt much more relaxed.”
最初想到以“被子”作为给人以安慰的物品，是因为 Wonjun 在想到未来的时候，有种无法排遣的焦虑和恐惧，日常生活又使他感到毫无生气。“在那些时候，我躺在床上，把毯子拉在头上，万千思绪蔓延开来，折磨着我自己，也禁锢着我自己。可我开始怀疑，这种感觉到底是我的内在问题，还是由于外在的影响呢？”
而在床上用被子蒙住头创造出的小空间，却让 Wonjun 感到很放松，“没有人能看得到我，也没有事可以影响我。”Wonjun 说那是他最后的一小块“私密场所”。“我觉得，我之所以感到空虚和沮丧，是因为我被社会所禁锢了吧。所以在我一个人的时候，我会觉得舒坦多了。”
In an effort to understand how Seoul – his city of residence and a place he’s become so familiar with – could have contributed to these negative thoughts, Jeong shot the entire project in various places he often visited around the city. “I wanted to shoot along my normal routes and in locations that I normally go to because I wanted to review the feelings I’d feel when I walked around these places,” he explains. “I also only chose spots where I could get my subjects alone because I want the audience to focus on the isolated figure and reflect on their experiences.”
This photo series ultimately serves as an outlet for Jeong’s pent-up frustrations; it’s a reflection of similar feelings that many young Koreans experience today due to the imbalance of wealth within Korea’s social hierarchy. With no attempt to hide his disappointment, Jeong tells us, “There are countless troubles, tensions, and conflicts in our fast-growing country. The country’s rapid progress in such a short period has caused many societal values to be lost. In Korea, the conflict now is between the generation that experienced growth and opportunity and those who did not. It’s often said that Korean society is where young people must make many compromises and I agree. I share the same worries towards the future as many of my peers, and I’m deeply affected by them. I believe that a lot of changes need to happen in the future.”