“I glow pink in the night in my room,” opens Mitski’s dreamily atmospheric song “Pink in the Night” off her new album Be The Cowboy. Crooning her obsessive yearning, Mitski uses the color pink as a symbol for a type of solitary blossoming. Of course, this is not the only understanding of the wildly overdetermined color. It’s easy to brush aside pink as cloyingly cute, prim and proper, related to the eye roll-inducing cis mania of gender reveal parties (though pink has only been associated with girls since the early 20th century). However, pink can also be a rebellious punk color as seen in the searing pink cover of Richard Hell & The Voidoid’s Blank Generation.
A current exhibition Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color, curated by Valerie Steele, at the Museum at FIT takes viewers through the development of the color from floofy dresses dating to the turn of the 20th century to the now-notorious pants designed by Duran Lantink and worn by Janelle Monáe in her video for “PYNK.” The show also spends time on the role of pink in activism, including the posters and T-shirts of the Silence = Death Project. Thankfully, the show doesn’t shy away from pink’s kitschiness, which, of course, what was drew me in. This is best exemplified by a display of knick-knacks, gewgaws and tchotchkes, from pink flamingos to Hello Kitty to creepy dolls, which looks like a rosy nightmare or daydream depending on your tolerance for trash. Like a monochromatic thrift store explosion, this recreation of JeongMee Yoon’s photograph Jeeyoo and her Pink Things from The Pink Project subversively clashed with Goop mastermind Gwyneth Paltrow’s Ralph Lauren dress worn to the 1999 Oscars. It was better than a vaginal steaming!
While there is much more to say, Pink is perfect for some GIF criticism. So “read” on: