Q&A: Mary Kang


Have you recently been living by any life philosophy? Acknowledge my dark side and work from there.  Also, “Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.” What will baffle future generations about our day and age? Many things: refugee crisis, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, and age, modern lynching, modern slavery, alt-right, and more. Are you aware of any conspiracies? Anything that divides us/distracts us from loving ourselves and loving each other is a conspiracy. Such would be the promotion of fear in our nation right now. What is it that interests you about photography? That it’s a form of language. It makes me feel like a trilingual. What is the worst thing about city life? Because everything is very dense, I see and feel a lot more, much more of the best and much more of worse. I could see a spiral of endearing moments entangled with sad sights of people struggling such as homelessness. NYC definitely has a lot faster pace than my hometown Austin, so my senses are constantly heightened the moment I walk out of my apartment. It can be overwhelming, but at the same time I like that I can feel. What part of the planet would you like to explore?S Korea, my motherland. I have a love/hate relationship with S Korea, but love conquers and even the hate part emanates from my love for it. I left Korea when I was 11 and have visited only twice. I never got to have enough time to immerse myself there ever since I picked up a camera. What do you think is the most plausible of the supernatural? Teleporting. If you had to align yourself with a leader in history, who would it be? Yu Gwansun. She is pretty badass.

Pick a field of science to be an expert within. Cognitive dissonance. What moment have you most wished you’d had a camera when you hadn’t? When I saw my parents pray during an early morning church service. They do this on a daily basis, but there was this one particular moment in high school when I went with them to get a ride somewhere afterwards.  It was such a subtle moment to witness, but I felt both their vulnerability and strength, seeing them pray so earnestly. That memory is very much engraved in me. Choose a job you would be willing to do for free on the side. Production assistant for FKA Twigs. Her art direction is so incredible. Describe the most important photo you’ve seen. What I have as my phone background – family photo.  Signal by John Stenmayer and Tomoko Uemura in her Bath by W. Eugene Smith are also very meaningful to me. How often do you take other people’s advice? Very frequently. I always feel that I have so much more to learn. Describe a personal hell. A place with no diversity. Which living person do you most admire? Someone who went through heavy times but was able to rise above the circumstances and love. That’s a strength right there. That person would be my mom. On what occasion do you lie? When I am not five minutes away.  What was the last crime you witnessed? Drunk driving. What is the best way to educate yourself? Engaging in dialogues but with more concentration on listening. What is the next book you want to read? I just got “Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery” by Henry Marsh. Ultimate camera? I think 8×10 film camera would be fun once mastering it. Most used camera? Canon 5D Mark II. What object do you want? Anywhere Door. Doraemon has it though… What object do you need? Lighting equipments to experiment.

How would you explain the internet to someone from the 1950’s? Connection through disconnection. Are you satisfied with your level of physical strength? No, I am actually trying out a pilates class this week to work on that. Describe a cheap thrill. Zipping of the suitcase, being the last person to fit into a subway car during rush hour, parallel parking, just everything that has to do with Tetris. Pick an historic moment from the last hundred years to bring a camera to. 1910s, when Korean traditional dress Hanbok was still an everyday wear but before western style clothing became the norm. Are impulses more important than consequences? In terms of photography I would choose consequences. I am inspired by how great of an impact photos can have. People see powerful photos and react; dialogues happen, communities gather, people donate money, etc. Or even if one person feels connected through an image and finds solace in that, that would be worth taking photos for. It’s not just impulse that makes me take photos. It’s the positive consequences I have seen that drive me.  Which talent would you most like to have? Creative writing.  What is your plan for the next 24 hours? Oh actually I see that the introductory pilates class I signed up for is tomorrow. It is going to be fairly warm tomorrow so I think about walking around outside afterwards and check out my new neighborhood. Then work on my edits from a recent shoot.

For more of Mary Kang’s work visit – Website / InstagramTumblr