LoQ Self Portrait Series: Helen Nishi
1. How has quarantine + social distance impacted your practice of photography?
Social distancing has had a huge impact for me internally and as well as in my work/art. But the birth of my son last year, a couple months before the pandemic hit, has given me the most beautiful and gratifying excuse to focus energy and dedication to this new project in my life. Having the time to bond with him in quarantine has been wonderful. It also has been a deepening time of pause and reflection. An eye opener in a dystopian like era. Despite all the emerging negative exposure in our world of diseases, pain, racism and violence only to hopefully be followed by positive insightful social and economical change is what gives me hope. That itself has been a big source of inspiration within me and how to adapt to this new world, has been the new challenge.
2. Is self-portraiture a form you generally gravitate towards? If so, why – or why not?
Having to endure living in a world where “selfies” are a normal part of life, my personality naturally refuses the thought of photographing myself but at the same time I understand the feelings that a self portrait can create and why it became so popular in our society. When it’s taken separately from vanity it quickly questions confidence, beauty, expression and courage. It also evokes mystery and I’m definitely drawn to it.
3. What have you spent time with lately?
Music and books always. Some favorite songs on my playlist lately are Boro To Furutetsu by Maki Asakawa, Les Fleur by Minnie Riperton, A Linha do Horizonte by Azymüth, and Olhos Coloridos by Sandra Sá. And for reading, Sowing Seeds in the Desert by Masanobu Fukuoka.
I have been spending a lot of time with my boys and myself. Signing petitions and calling for a better world. We have been given the opportunity of time to look deep into ourselves. Now is the time to re-invent our reality, take care of our bodies and help the ones in need. This has been a time of reflection into what really happened to our ancestors and to change the history of our societal lies. I’ve been practicing compassion and awareness these days. It has been hard to feel sane at times but the love of my family and friends keeps me grounded.
4. Describe a photo which is important to you in words.
A photograph titled “The Gold Mine” by Sebastião Salgado, an exuberant and thrilling moment captured.
See Helen's photos @helennishi