Self-Portrait, published by Japanese Aka-Aka, is Korean photographer Ahn Jun’s first photobook. The series, taken between 2008 and 2013 in Seoul, New York and Hong Kong, features self-portraits of Jun dangerously close to – sometimes even over – the edges of skyscrapers. In her artist statement, Ahn explains the images toy with the illusion that “in this era of tall buildings used as hotels, offices or luxurious living spaces, people do not feel fear of heights, and even prefer to live there because they perceive that environment as a ‘beautiful skyline view.’”
However, the photographs – taken with a self-timer set to shoot rapidly while Jun approaches the edge until the memory card fills up – are more than the result of simple thrill-seeking. Wearing evening dresses, Ahn’s character’s interactions with her city environments suggest a disillusion, a disengagement, and a strong yearning to escape.
“There was a day I recalled my time as an adolescent. At the time, I was sitting on the edge of my apartment in New York and looking over the cityscape. I had a thought, that suddenly my youth was coming to an end and I could not figure out the future. I sat on the edge and I looked down.
Then I saw the empty space, the void.”
— from Jun Ahn’s afterword