Esther Choi is an artist and scholar whose work explores how concepts of identity and nature have been shaped by the aesthetics and narratives of Western cultural worldmaking practices. Her artistic practice and academic research draw from art and architectural history, decolonial and postcolonial theory, critical environmental studies, and feminist science and technology studies.
In addition to her reworking of traditional photographic genres (landscape and still life), Choi's artwork explores how time-based and photographic media, and their means of circulation, can operate as tools for cultural critique. Her socially-engaged projects include Office Hours (2020–), a knowledge sharing participatory project for BIPOC cultural producers; Le Corbuffet (Prestel, 2019), a James Beard-nominated cookbook that poses questions about canons, narratives, and cultural value; and Public Service (2023-), a web zine that features notable BIPOC artists, designers, and scholars in conversations about catalyzing change in the culture industries—and beyond.
Her writing has been published in Artforum, Art Papers, Harvard Design Magazine, and e-flux, in addition to edited volumes and exhibition catalogues. She is the co-editor of two books, Architecture at the Edge of Everything Else (MIT Press, 2010) and Architecture Is All Over (Columbia U, 2017).
While a Getty/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellow in the History of Art, she is working on a book titled The Organization of Life, based on her Ph.D. dissertation completed at Princeton University. Tracing the interwar exchanges and collaborations that took place between British and European artists, designers, and evolutionary biologists, the book examines how the culture industries were used to design a "modernized" human—and a model of humanism based on this subjective and colonial standard—as a "natural" outcrop of evolution.
Choi is an Adjunct Associate Professor at The Cooper Union. She has also taught at OCAD University, University of Pennsylvania, and The New School in the areas of photography, criticism and curatorial practice, and architectural history and theory.
A regular contributor to T: The New York Times Style Magazine, her photographs have been commissioned by Le Monde, Dazed and Confused, Vice, The New York Times Magazine, and AnOther Man, among other publications.
Choi's work has received recognition and support from The Ford Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada, Richard Rogers Fellowship, James Beard Foundation, Princeton University, Harvard University, The Getty Foundation, The Graham Foundation, Society of Architectural Historians, and Canadian Centre for Architecture, among others.