Self-Portrait: Kourtney Kyung Smith


LoQ Self Portrait Series: Kourtney Kyung Smith


1. How has quarantine + social distance impacted your practice of photography?

Where do I begin? This moment of collective pause has ushered in a time of reevaluation for me, as it has with many people. I now consider all of my decisions as part of a creative practice because imagining the world anew and a future of flourishing requires so much creativity. During quarantine, I realized that our ability to transform the world is dependent upon our imagination — we need to first imagine what a more equitable, more beautiful future could look like in order to create one.

2. Is self-portraiture a form you generally gravitate towards? If so, why – or why not?

I see a relationship between self-portraiture and seasons in my life when I feel connected to my physicality. I dabbled in self-portraiture and modeling when I was young. I had grown up dancing, so I had an awareness of my body that made me comfortable in front of the camera. But since the height of selfie culture, I found myself disenchanted with self-portraiture for most of my twenties. I started dancing again last year after a long hiatus and I think it helped me reconnect with my physical self — enough to take the risk of trying self-portraiture again during quarantine. It's been both a vulnerable and freeing experience, I'm grateful for the reintroduction.

3. What have you spent time with lately?

It’s been a serious time of reeducation for me. Lots of intentional reading about ideas/theory, watching early aughts teen tv dramas for the first time, and some art/foreign films that I haven’t seen.

I’ve been considering the privilege of access a lot lately: access to ideas, knowledge, culture, & experiences and how restricted access is a tool for maintaining power and a lack of criticality. So this moment for me is about engaging with these things that I didn’t have direct access to before, like reading bell hooks or Foucault and then watching Gossip Girl or Dawson’s Creek

 4. Describe a photo that is important to you in words.

This is a great question, but so hard. My current favorite photo is one taken of my grandfather and I last week, after having been apart for months due to him being immunocompromised. At the end of the day, savoring that memory with him is more valuable to me than aesthetics.


See Kourtney's photos @kourtneykyung.

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