Photographic Commissions: Visual Culture
Academic profile: The Cooper Union


Esther M. Choi is an artist, photographer, and writer whose practice encompasses photography, time-based media, social practice, and publishing. Choi's work delves into the complex ways modern visual and spatial worldmaking technologies in the Global North have shaped concepts of nature. With a background in photography and architectural history/theory, her artistic projects and research draw from diverse fields such as art and architectural history, decolonial and postcolonial theory, critical environmental studies, and feminist science and technology studies. Choi's current focus is on exploring the connection between photography and petroleum-based plastics.

She is the creator of two socially engaged, online projects rooted in sharing, mutuality, and reciprocity in service of BIPOC liberation: Office Hours (2020–ongoing), a participatory knowledge-sharing project that has garnered the participation of thousands of people representing the global majority in over 30 countries, and Public Service (2023-ongoing), a YouTube series featuring notable BIPOC artists, scholars, and designers in conversations about catalyzing social change in the culture industries.

Choi's commissioned still life photographs have been featured in publications such as T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Dazed and Confused, Le Monde, AnOther Magazine, AnOther Man, Elle Decor, Vice, and The New York Times Magazine. Her images for T Magazine were nominated for an ASME National Magazine Award in 2024. Choi's Fluxus-inspired conceptual cookbook Le Corbuffet (Prestel, 2019), which subverts the conventions of food photography to explore ideas about cultural consumption, was nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award in Photography in 2020.

Choi’s essays have appeared in edited volumes and exhibition catalogues such as Reaper (JRP Ringier, 2015), Radical Pedagogies (The MIT Press, 2022), and Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia (Walker Art Center, 2015), as well as periodicals such as Art Papers, Harvard Design Magazine, e-Flux, Artforum, Journal of Architectural Education, and Perspecta. She is the co-editor (with Marrikka Trotter) of Architecture at the Edge of Everything Else (MIT Press, 2010) and Architecture Is All Over (Columbia Books, 2017).

Choi holds a joint Ph.D. in Architectural History/ Theory and Interdisciplinary Humanities from Princeton University, an MDes in Architectural History/ Theory from Harvard University, an MFA in Photography from Concordia University, and a BFA in Photography from Toronto Metropolitan University. In 2022, she was a Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Art. She served as an Assistant Professor of Photography and Criticism and Curatorial Practice at OCAD University from 2008–16 and has been an Adjunct Associate Professor at The Cooper Union since 2016.

Choi's work has been recognized and supported by various organizations, including the Ford Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada, Richard Rogers Fellowship, MillerKnoll Foundation, The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Princeton University, Canadian Centre for Architecture, and the Society of Architectural Historians.

Her work as an artist and public scholar has been featured in T: The New York Times Style Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, 032C, Deem Journal, New York Magazine, Dwell Magazine, Elephant, Art Review, Architectural Digest, Architectural Record, The Architect’s Newspaper, Metropolis, PIN-UP, The Globe and Mail, Tatler Asia, and more.

She was born in Etobicoke, Ontario, the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.