Tommy Kha

Through the framework of self-portraiture, appropriation, and performance, I explore the intersection of sexuality, race, and the American South. Using my body as a site of conflicting narratives.

Being a Queer, Asian Southerner, my work simultaneously occupies and shifts between comedy and tragedy, familiarity and foreignness, performer and camera operator.

My current bodies of works focus on otherness and its representation in media, relying on the aesthetics of copying, impersonation, and the inherent nature of the camera: to photograph.

These aesthetic preoccupations began to emerge in the work I made during August trips home to Memphis, as I found myself repeatedly drawn to the Elvis Presley Tribute Artists (“Elvis Impersonators”) who converge on the anniversary of his death during Dead Elvis Week.

I also create cardboard cutouts of my body and 3-D printed masks of my face, and photograph them in a documentary-style approach in the real world. These are fabricated from self-portraits—the resulting photographs are essentially “pictures of pictures.” This process transforms my photographic body, and its photographic representation into images that look like low-fi collages, or bad Photoshop jobs—echoing everyday experiences of not belonging. As these pictures move across different genres, as a still life and portrait, or a landscape and a document, I attempt to locate and define my position of power in my process.

Recently, I have started to use antiquated technologies such as Photobooths and Xerox machines to subvert and play with the idea of editions and unique photographs, while referencing the cinematic filmstrips and the movie sequence. As the role of film expands through my video work and into my photography, I’ve begun to cast other Queer Asian men to act and impersonate me.

Though these projects may appear disparate, themes of likeness and otherness are at the forefront of my picture making. Each of them bridged together through performance gestures, things already inherent to the self and image.

Eventually, as I shed my form, I adopt a new guise in the form of Elvis, coming full circle.



2013                            MFA Photography, Yale University

2011                            BFA in Photography   , Memphis College of Art

                                    SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2019                            (Forthcoming NYC debut, May) Baxter Street at Camera Club of New York, New York, NY

2018                            (Forthcoming, October) I’m Only Here to Leave, Blue Sky Gallery, Portland, OR

                                    TWO-PERSON EXHIBITIONS

2018                            Summer, Some Aren’t, with Jack Pierson. Teen Party, Brooklyn, NY

2010                            Wanted to be a… with Park Deok Sun – curated by Darja Lin. Yongkang Lu Art, Shanghai, China


2018                            (Forthcoming, October) Southbound: Photographs of and About the New South – Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston, SC

                                    (Forthcoming, September) New Southern Photography – curated by Richard McCabe. Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans, LA

                                    (Forthcoming, August) Antwerp Queer Arts Festival. Antwerp, Belgium.

                                    Love in the time of… – The Gallery at The Armory Show, New York, NY [One-hour show, part of artist Wang Xin’s installation of rotating artists]

                                    Today was a good day – Leslie-Lohman Museum, New York, NY

                                    Queering Space – Fosdick-Nelson Gallery, Alfred, NY

2017                            Vice Magazine Photography Issue – White Box, New York, NY

                                    Discursive Selves – Westbeth Gallery, New York, NY

                                    Bound by Paper – LMAK Gallery, New York, NY

2016                            Art After Trump – Housing Works, New York NY

                                    High Summer – Foley Gallery, New York, NY

                                    Mossless 4: Public/Private/Portrait – Deli Gallery, Queens, NY

2015                            Video Snack 5 – Fourth Wall at Vox Populi, Philadelphia, PA

2014                            Baby, I Love You! Forms and Formulas of Love – Kunstverein Wolfsburg, Wolfsburg, Germany

Race, Love, and Labor – curated by Sarah Lewis. Dorsky Museum, New Paltz, NY

I never asked to be a role model – Georgia Scherman Projects, Toronto, Canada

2013                            Shannon/All Pictures By – Aperture Gallery, New York, NY. Johalla Projects, Chicago, IL. Green Gallery, New Haven, CT

2012                            Small Works – curated by Jon Feinstein and Amani Olu. Flash Forward Festival, Boston, MA


2018                            Magenta Foundation Flash Forward

2011                            Jessie and Dolph Smith Emeritus Award

                                    Best Film, Training Wheels, Boston Bike Film Festival

Golden Helmet Award, Training Wheels, Filmed by Bike Festival

2010                            Best Hometown Short, Training Wheels, Indie Memphis



2018                            Baxter Street at Camera Club of New York Workspace Residency, New York, NY

2017                            Fountainhead Residency, Miami, FL

2016                            En Foco Photography Fellowship

2015                            Light Work, Syracuse, NY

2012                            Nominated for Alice Kimball English Traveling Fellowship

2011                            Center for Photography at Woodstock, Woodstock, NY


2015                            Essay by Jon Feinstein. A Real Imitation. Aint-Bad Editions, 15 December.


2018                            (Forthcoming) William Simmons. Constructed: The Contemporary History of The Constructed Image in Photography Since 1990. Print.

Precog Magazine. Issue 3: Transformation. 5 May. Print.

                                    Sarah Cascone. “Citywide ‘Stations of the Cross’ Exhibition Highlights Global Injustices Through the Story of Christ.” ArtNet. 30 March. Web.

                  Rick Moody. “Dear Rick Moody: Half My Family Knows The Truth About Me.” LitHub. 12 January. Web.

2017                            “Musée Magazine’s Best of 2017: The Photographs” Musée Magazine. 31 December. Web.

Will Matsuda. “Why Aren’t There Any Famous Asian American Photographers?” Aperture. 16 November. Web.

Jack Pierson. “Guest Curator: Jack Pierson.” Musée Magazine. 16 November. Print. pp. 94, 100, 101, 102, 110, 111

Louis Staples. “In Conversation With Queer Photographer Tommy Kha.” HisKind. 2 October. Web.

Felicia Feaster. “Eclectic mix of photographers from across country at MOCA GA.” The Atlantic Journal-Constitution. 5 September Web.

Alex Jackson. “Photographic idols for the Vice photo issue.” British Journal of Photography. 25 August. Web.

Bryony Stone. “Photographer Tommy Kha’s self-portraits explore his queer Asian identity.” It’s Nice That. 23 August. Web.

Richard Horgan. “Vice Magazine Pairs 16 Up-and-Coming Photographers With the Veterans Who Inspired Them.” Adweek. 8 August. Web.

Elizabeth Renstrom. ”Young Asian American Photographer Refreshes Vintage Eggleston Americana.” Vice. 7 August. Web.

Elizabeth Renstrom. “The 2017 Photography Issue.” Vice Magazine. 7 August. Print.

Michael Valinsky. “Capturing Fragments of Identity.” Hyperallergic. 4 August. Web.

Alexander Forbes, Alexxa Gotthardt and Scott Indrisek. “12 Artists in Summer Group Shows Who Deserve Solo Shows.” Artsy. 2 August. Web.
Eric Lawton and Daphne Takahashi. Discursive Selves. Exhibition Catalogue. 21 July. Print.

                                    Matt Hendrickson. “Valerie June: In Bloom.” Garden & Gun. February/March. Print.

Severin Allgood. The Pinch Literary Magazine. 6 February. Print.

Marcelo Yáñez. Picture Newspaper. January. Print.

2016                            En Foco Nueva Luz. 17 November. Print.

                                    J.M. Martin. “New Horizons in Road Trip Photography.” Hyperallergic. 16 September. Web.

                  Anna Knecht Schwarzer and Helen Jones. Incandescent Issue 10. 31 August. Print.

Contact Sheet 187: Light Work Annual 2016. Light Work. August. Print. pp 16-23.
Osman Yerebakan. “Foley Gallery’s High Summer Steps Out of the Shade.” Baxter St at CCNY. 12 August. Web.

                                    “Tommy Kha.” Hyde Hypocritedesign Magazine. 12 August. Web.

                                    Dan Pavsic. “Exploring the Self Portrait with Tommy Kha.” Juxtapose Magazine. 10 August. Web.

“Tommy Kha poeticises an uncanny feeling alienation in his hometown” THISISPAPER. 19 July. Web.

Romke Hoogwaerts & Charlotte Cotton, Mossless 4, 30 June. Print.

                                    Dennis Huynh. “The Most Interesting Photo Story We Saw This Week.” Buzzfeed. 17 June. Web.

David Rosenberg. “Growing Up Gay and Asian in Memphis” Slate. 15 June. Web

Ben King, “The Most Interesting Photo Story We Saw This Week.” BuzzFeed. 30 April. Web.

                                    Jeanette D. Moses, “Mossless Teams Up With International Center Of Photography For Issue 4.” American Photo Magazine. 27 April. Web.

Nara Shin, “Public / Private / Portrait,” Cool Hunting. 26 April. Web.

Sayantan Mukhopadhyay & Shauna Jean Doherty, “Meld with Something.” Exhibition Booklet. 7 April.

                                    Jon Feinstein, “A Real Imitation: Justine Kurland in Conversation With Tommy Kha.” Humble Arts Foundation, 7 April. Web.

Scott Indresik, “Sex, Elvis, and Eggleston: Tommy Kha’s World.” Modern Painters. 1 April. p 36.

David Bram, “Issue 84, Return to Sender.” Fraction Magazine. 1 March. Web.

Max Marshall, “Ones.” Latent Image. 25 January. Web.

Scott Indresik, “Sex, Elvis, and Eggleston: A Journey with Photographer Tommy Kha.” Blouin ArtInfo. 21 January. Web.

2015                            Mick Abela, “Roomful of Mirrors: Jen Davis and Tommy Kha looking at Self.” Musée Magazine. 9 December. Web.

                                    Eileen Townsend, “Tommy Kha a ‘Supporting Character’ on Girls.” The Memphis Flyer. 27 July. Web.

                                    “From Here On.” Savannah: Aint-Bad Magazine. 24 April.

2014                            Sarah Lewis, Race, Love, and Labor. Exhibition Catalogue. 1 September.

                                    “The American South.” Aint-Bad Magazine. 8 September.

                                    Elena Vanietti, “A real imitation.” YET Magazine. 2 September. Web.

                                    Claire Voon, “In a Brooklyn Gallery, Yale Meets Instagram.” Hyperallergic  25 June. Web.

                                    Monique Atherton, “Guest Appearances: Tommy Kha in Conversation with Monique Atherton.” ArtFile Magazine. 11 May. Web.

                                    Scott Indrisek. “In Favor for a ‘Law & Order: SVU’-Inspired Art Movement.” Blouin ArtInfo. 21 April. Web.

Caterina Lobenstein, ” Sie Dürfen Mich Jetzt Küssen.” Zeit Campus. 8 April. pp 8-14.

                                    Taylor Curry, “This Graceland.” Aint-Bad Magazine. 21 February. Web.

                                    Alessia Delisi, “Return to Sender.” Wu Magazine. 11 February. pp 14-19.

                                    Danny Calvi, “Same Difference.” Butt Magazine. 22 January. Web.

                                    Graduate Directory – Photography. Wallpaper* Magazine. January. Web.

2013                            Alessia Delisi, “Asian Kiss.” Kult Magazine. 19 December. pp 14-15.

Alison Nastasi, “Amusing Self-Portraits of an Impassive Artist Being Kissed by Strangers.” Flavor Wire. 6 October. Web. Luigi Pier Pisa, “Usa, Baci Non Corrisposti: Il Fotoprogetto di Tommy Kha.” La Repubblica. 4 October. Web.

                                    Pinar, “Hilarious Self-Portraits of a Stoic Man Being Kissed by Strangers.” My Modern Met. 2 October. Web.

Borja Sahara, “Kissing Strangers: Tommy Kha’s Self-Portraits.” Feature Shoot. 26 September. Web.

Kelvin Soh,  “Return to Sender.” Le Roy. 19 September. pp 22-34.

                                    Dale Eisinger, “Tommy Kha Shoots Fascinating Self-Portraits while Apathetically Kissing Strangers.” Complex Magazine. 14 September. Web.

                                    Ethel Navales, “Awkward Kisses with Strangers.” Audrey Magazine. 10 September. Web.

                                    Priscilla Frank, “Artist Locks Lips with Strangers in Curious Photo Series.” Huffington Post. 6 September. Web.           

David Rosenberg, “Stoically Kissing Friends and Strangers.” Slate. 4 September. Web.               

Eileen Townsend, “In the Picture.” The Memphis Flyer. 28 August. pp 30-31.

Miranda July, “We Think Alone, Week 8: An Email that Includes a Picture of Art.” On the Tip of My Tongue. 19 August.

Evelyn Dragan, “Tommy Kha.” CULT Magazine. 7 August. Web.

Chris Davis, “Looking for a Kiss? Here are 70 of them.” The Memphis Flyer. 27 July. Web.

                                    Oscar Laluyan, “Picture This: There’s Something About SHANNON.” Arte Fuse. 23 July. Web.

Allison Grant, “Shannon.” Johalla Projects. 12 July. Web.

Joseph Maida, “CCNY Interviews” Camera Club of New York. 3 May. Web.

2012                            Benjamin Solomon, “Who’s Next 2013: Photographer Spotlight.” Next Magazine. 28 December. Print.
“Portrait Salon Newspaper ’12.” Portrait Salon. 1 November. Web.

                                    Fredric Koeppel, “Art Review: Photos aim to capture ‘reality’ of Memphis.” Commercial Appeal. 1 February.

                                    Pam Cloud, “Renowned Works Of Art On View At Dixon Gallery In Memphis .” The Times Record. 29 January. Web.

                                    Ashley Johnston, “Best of Both Worlds.” The Memphis Flyer. 26 January. Print.

                                    WORK EXPERIENCE

2016-2018                   Part-time Lecturer, Introduction to Photography – Rutgers University, Newark, NJ