Behind The Lens With Kira Issar

Scroll through Instagram recommendations, we came across a unique visual artist whose body of work evokes a sense of intrigue. Something of a mystery, this Central Saint Martins graduate captures moments that seem to have emerged from fiction, yet address emotion in a manner that will make you go back to the handle on a platform that typically holds your attention for mere seconds. Le Mill spoke to Kira Issar (@kiraissar) on her creative process while creating fine art photography.

How do you choose your subjects?

Behind the lens with Kira Issar

When I choose subjects for my pictures, my eye usually gravitates toward people of color with androgynous or unconventional features. I try and inject my curiosity for South Asian beauty that I can relate to on a personal front. I also keep a small personal belonging of my subject in my pictures: perhaps a scar, a favorite shirt, their grandma's earrings, or a color their being reminds me of. 

What were your early experiments in the visual medium? How did you develop that instinct?

Behind the lens with Kira Issar

I began with taking pictures of myself, my friends, and my family around me on a 6-megapixel family camera in my preteen and teenage years. I was always someone who knew where to find a good time when left with myself. As a child, I would concoct elaborate rituals with flowers and sketch pens, cut up magazines, embroider lazy daisies on scraps of cloth, and make my own beaded jewelry, and well, art class was the only time I didn’t hate school. In my undergrad years, I began to freelance as a graphic artist and eventually got myself a camera.

I have always been fixated on and affected by the visual in most moments or phases of my life, and so photography seemed a natural inclination.

What inspires your work?

Behind the lens with Kira Issar

I’d like to believe I am inspired by different things as the days pass. At this moment, I am inspired by the micro wildflowers that nobody pays attention to. I am also inspired by Bildungsroman, the journey it takes to contend with one’s own self.  Themes that run constantly in my work often have to do with silence and violence, human and nonhuman relations, and an ecofeminist vision.

Can you elaborate on the concept of the ecofeminist vision?

Behind the lens with Kira Issar

The ecofeminist theory’s premise, in simple words, is that all oppressions are interconnected and they uphold and reinforce one another. It draws on making connections between different oppressions and seeing the whole instead of fragments. For instance - in my photo book ‘Medusas Prologue’ I put forward the question of the experience of women’s bodies and non-human animal bodies - who both share commodity/object status and are considered ‘resources’ to a patriarchal world. I seek to explore eco-feminist theory by creating a body of work that makes people think about these connections.

How do you see your practice evolving?

Behind the lens with Kira Issar

I’d like to make work that is honest with my experiences and observations, ultimately. Going forward, I would like to explore different mediums to articulate the complex themes I'm drawn to. I'm currently experimenting with hand printing, video, and collage work. I also have a photobook in the works I am quite excited to unveil.