‘Is this an image of a sculpture or an invitation to a sexual encounter?’: Esteban Kuriel’s best phone picture

“A former mentor, Elinor Carucci, recommends taking pictures daily as a sort of gym for the photographic mind,” Esteban Kuriel says.

On this day, Kuriel was staying at St Ermin’s hotel in London and had visited the Sir John Soane’s Museum, which houses a collection of Greek, Roman and Egyptian figurative sculptures. “The fragmented, contorted bodies inspired me, and I returned to my room to make this image. Photographing daily trains my eye, just as one trains their body at the gym, so I must play with what is available. In this case, it was this space and its furniture.”

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Kuriel is more than willing to be his own model and muse, noting that at graduate school he “began to feel the weight of the photographer’s power and the implications when representing other people. Rather than trying to navigate that power dynamic, I preferred to use myself; plus I’m always available!” Doing so led him to reconsider traditional notions of selfies and self-portraiture; he says he can detach from the feeling of putting his body on display and instead consider it as raw material to sculpt. “It’s my body, but it’s also a political tool to explode the gender binary and explore my own queerness.

“Social media censorship demands that I hide my genitals, but this restriction only heightens the sense of mystery and ambiguity around the narrative, which the viewer is then compelled to fill in,” he says, before posing the question: “Is this an image of a sculpture or an invitation to a sexual encounter?”

The Guardian