Interview with
Jenn Kang

テラススクエアフォトエキシビションvol.26ではLAとソウルを拠点に活動するアーティストのジェン・カンの日本のギャラリーでは初となる個展が開催中です。ジェンは韓国ソウルで生まれ、幼くしてLAで生活をし、そこで写真とアートについて学びました。その後、サンフランシスコやベルリンなどでアートについて学び、現在はソウルにある自身のアトリエで活動中だと言います。今回ensemble magazineではジェンにインタヴューを行いました。彼女の言葉から、LA、ソウル、トウキョウの写真をめぐる風景を感じていただければ幸いです。

Q: あなたのプロフィールを教えてください。あなたはどこで生まれましたか?あなたのふたつの故郷は、あなたの作品をどのように規定していますか?
Q: Please tell us your profile. Where were you born? How long have you been working in LA? Please tell me the situation of the photos of Seoul and LA, and the difference between each city?

I tend to refrain from talking about my background too much because I don’t like being boxed into a category, whether it’s by age, gender or nationality. I think it rather serves as distraction for the work I am making and its intent. That said, I’m very proud of my culture, though it doesn’t define my work. I’m Korean-American and grew up in both Los Angeles and Seoul, although I spent more time in LA. I moved around a lot as a young adult, living in San Francisco and Berlin during my university years then in Paris for a bit before returning to LA. I get a lot of questions about LA & Seoul and how they reflect in my work, but I don’t think either city necessarily defines me or my artwork. 

Q: How was your work born this time? Please tell me about the theme of the work you chose for this exhibition. Where was the work taken? Please tell me the story. How long has the series been going on?

To give a brief introduction, the photos in this exhibition all consist of fragments of nature. They also highlight my relationship with nature, which is a mix of admiration and alliance. Recurring subjects and themes in my work are bodies of water and reflections – the stream of water serving as metaphors for the flow of time as well as the essence of nature, permanence and ephemera. The photos in the show were taken over the span of 6 years. I wouldn’t necessarily call this a series, but rather a theme that has become a fixture in my work.

Q:展覧会のタイトル「Vapor Trail」に込めた想いを教えてください。
Q: Please tell me your thoughts on the title of the exhibition.

今回の展示のタイトルはVapor Trail(ひこうき雲)です。私の好きな日本の歌のひとつ、荒井由美の「ひこうき雲」からインスパイアされて名付けました。ですが、それは曲自体と直接的な関係はありません。私はそれが私たちが世界に残す痕跡を説明するための、美しく適切な用語だと思っています。
Vapor Trail. I got it from one of my favorite Japanese songs, ひこうき雲 by Arai Yumi. It doesn’t have any direct association with the song itself. I just thought it was a beautiful and appropriate term to describe the traces we leave in the world.

Q: Have you ever exhibited in Japan? Do you have any experience with solo exhibitions? Please tell me the background of this exhibition.

I had an exhibition in collaboration with a Japanese fashion brand last year in Tokyo, which was very cool. Besides that, It’s my first show at a gallery in Japan and my first solo show! I am very excited.

Q: ジェンさんは何に気づき、写真を撮りますか?
Q: At what time, when do you notice and take a photograph?

Whether I have a theme in mind or not, my process is heavily guided by emotions and instinct. Connection to the subject, whether it is literal or figurative, is the main factor that makes me want to take a photograph.

Q: When did you start taking photograph of your own style as you are now? Has the work changed?

I would say around 6 years ago, that’s when my style really solidified and is also when I started taking the craft seriously. I would say my work is more refined today but the essence has remained the same.

Q: I feel a unique and unique rich background from your work.What do you think uniqueness brings to the work?

100%正直であれば、すべての仕事はユニークだと思います。私はカメラを前にした時、最も正直な自分になろうとしています。私にとって、書くことや絵画においては、正直で繊細であることは難しいことに気づきましたが、なぜそうなのか、その理由はわかりません。おそらく、カメラはとても簡単なので、レンズは文字通り目を表しています。言葉や絵の具で物事を装飾したり修正したりすることは、むしろ容易いです。写真では、私はイメージは「そこにある」という事実が好きです – まさにそのままがフィルムに永久に埋め込まれているのです。
I believe every work is unique if it is 100% honest. I try to be my most honest self behind the camera. I noticed it’s harder to be honest and vulnerable in writing or painting, I’m not sure why. Perhaps because the camera is so straightforward – the lens literally represents the eye. It’s easy to embellish and revise things with words or paint. With photography, I like the fact that I am “stuck” with an image – that the very second is embedded permanently onto film.

In terms of context and inspiration behind my work, it’s safe to say that nature is my ultimate muse. I believe everything in its natural form exist for a reason. There’s perpetual friendship between all living species and nature, an innate connection between inhabitant and habitat. Superficial elements are futile in the fellowship as opposed to human relationships where they hold excess significance. There is no need to yearn for acceptance as it is guaranteed that you will feel a sense of belonging and inner peace. For me, it is the closest thing to the Divine. 

Q: Since modern times, Japanese photography has created a unique view of the world by photographing everyday life. Please tell me the photo situation of Seoul, where Jenn is from. ( I like the culture of Korea and Seoul, so I’m interested.

I’m definitely inspired by and relate to a lot of Japanese photographers, some of my absolute favorites being from Japan. Korea and Japan are both similar and vastly different; it’s so interesting to observe and compare both cultures as they’re so close in distance, and have an interesting history together to say the least. 
Seoul is a special place to live as an artist and human, as it’s so emotionally charged with tons of stimuli and history to view and feel. I also noticed a growing interest among the general public in the arts, which is nice to see. I just hope it is genuine interest and not a fad, as trends tend to move on very quickly these days. 



I’m not too familiar of the contemporary photography scene in Korea as I haven’t spent enough time there as an adult nor a photographer. There’s massive global attention placed on Korean culture, media and the arts currently, but I don’t see much diversity in the content to be completely honest. The system feels pretty rigid and hierarchical which leaves little room for creative freedom, but I am hoping to see change soon for the new generation. There’s a strong obsession for perfection and conformity, but I don’t think this problem is limited to Korea, as I’e noticed similar sentiments in other small, ethnically & culturally homogenous countries. LA is the opposite, but to an extreme. Things feel too boundless at times thus it’s easy to feel out of place and out of touch with reality. Sometimes it helps with artmaking, especially if you need to focus on a singular project for months, for example.

Q: The number of young people in Japan is taking pictures using a film camera instead of a smartphone and digital camera.Are there many young people in Korea/the US who take pictures with film cameras?Jenn is also taking pictures with film. Do you have any special processing to make the work?

I obviously can’t speak for the entire public, but for some, I believe it is due to its popularization on social media platforms such as Instagram and Tumblr. I view it in a positive light regardless of intent as it’s helping preserve the medium afterall.
My first camera was a gift from my grandfather, an old Nikkormat. I still have that camera and I get quite emotional every time I hold and see it. I first learned photography in a pretty traditional way, with a manual film camera, developing and printing my own photos, etc. The darkroom was my favorite place to spend time in as a teenager. I guess I just got used to the process and the medium, so continuing with film was just natural to me. I am also not a fan of the disposability of digital images. I like the tangibility and exclusivity of film negatives.


Q: Please tell me about Korean photography culture. What kind of photographers are there?

I don’t think I can properly answer this question as I’m pretty unaware of contemporary photography scenes or trends in general, whether it is LA or Korea. We’re bombarded with new imagery and information daily, which makes me quite overwhelmed. I am more interested in older works of art, whether it is photography, paintings, or film. It’s interesting to note that photography has become a very democratic medium, and I view it as a positive shift for the most part as I believe artmaking should be more accessible.


Q: From Jenn’s photos on display this time, I felt a unique perspective and commitment to light and color. Also, I feel that a single photo is strong, and I have a strong will for the whole. Please tell me your thoughts on Jenn’s photos, such as how to express yourself, choosing subjects and motifs.

For me, art and photography is, simply put, aestheticization of emotions, and the light and color I capture embody them. I don’t believe in separating artwork from the artist, nor do I think it’s possible. Personally speaking, photography has always been a deeply autobiographical practice where I explore myself in relation to the world. I like to photograph myself indirectly, and nature and reflections have always served as perfect vessels to do so, thus a fixture in my work.

Q: Art has a variety of expressions such as painting, sculpture, and music. Please tell me about the possibility of the photo. Is there anything you are interested in other than photos?

In terms of consumption, music and literature are probably at the top of the list. But I dabble in painting, watercolor in particular, and write in my journal regularly. Just my thoughts, but I wouldn’t call it a diary. Not poetry either, but somewhere in the middle. I call them casual musings. Maybe I’ll publish a book of my journal entries one day, something like Yun Hyeong-keun’s diary or Osamu Dazai’s book of essays I recently read.

Q: Please tell me what you think of exhibiting at Terrace Square this time.

I’m very excited to exhibit my photos at Terrace Square. I’m extremely lucky to work with someone who appreciates and understands my work so truthfully. It’s an honor, I’m so grateful for this beautiful opportunity.

Q: Please tell me your future plans. Exhibitions, publication of works, etc.

I’ve been working on my first photobook for about a year now. Last fall during my trip to Japan, I met the perfect book designer for it which I am so happy about. I plan to publish it this year so please stay tuned. I can’t wait to finally share it with the world.

Jenn Kang (b. 1996) is a fine art & fashion photographer based in Los Angeles and Seoul.

まとめと展示写真=加藤孝司 Takashi Kato

  • テラススクエアフォトエキシビションVol.26「JENN KANG Vapor Trail 」
  • 住所: 千代田区神田錦町3-22 テラススクエア 1F エントランスロビー
  • 開催日時: 2023年2月20日(月)〜2023年5月19日(金) / 8:00~20:00(最終日は18:30までとなります)
  • 休館日: 土曜・日曜・祝日・年末年始 入場無料