The ‘vertiginous’ self-portraits by Ahn Jun

The ‘vertiginous’ self-portraits by Ahn Jun



[inspired by Phaidon]



Skyscrapers, breathtaking heights, a photographer who pushes herself to the limit, always. If you’re afraid of heights sit down and start holding your chair tight.

Ahn Jun is not an acrobat. The photographer from South Korea lived in New York attending the Parsons School of Design, and now she has settled in Seoul, where she’s taking a Ph.D in photography at the Hongik University. Jun had much to deal with heights in the recent years, thanks to the city she visited, and she feels so comfortable with skyscrapers that she started heading to the top of them just to take pictures of herself walking on the most breathtaking edges. Moreover, she wanted to point out that the shots haven’t been digitally composed which could make feel uncomfortable the most sensitive ones.

Ahn shot her self-portraits on the ledges of some of the tallest buildings in Seoul, New York and Hong Kong in the past 5 years. Using just a harness in some pics, Ahn says that her photos are not about courage. “Recently, some medias described me as a fearless artist, but I’m really not that and this work is not about that,” says in the interview with Artinfo. “I really have a fear and this is about that fear and how the photography medium subverts the context of fear.”

Always pushing herself to the limit, Ahn sets her camera on a tripod in order to shoot every single second till the memory card is full. In this time frame she walks increasingly close to the edge of the building to obtain photos challenging the most intimidating heights.


There was a day when I recalled my adolescent years, 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 looked down. Then I saw the empty space, the void, and there was a sudden change in my perspective on life and death, present and future. The vision of the cityscape I was witnessing was not real for that moment – I felt the illusion of beautiful buildings was just like the future, or an ideal that we can never reach, but which surrounds us. Then I looked down and saw that what I was actually standing on was empty space. It was ‘the present’ for me. So I took a picture of my feet and that was the start of my project.”

All images are property of © Ahn Jun

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