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
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
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
SELECT GROUP EXHIBITIONS
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
PRIZES & AWARDS
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
RESIDENCIES & FELLOWSHIPS
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.
Jack Pierson. “Guest Curator: Jack Pierson.” Musée Magazine. 16 November. Print. pp. 94, 100, 101, 102, 110, 111
Elizabeth Renstrom. “The 2017 Photography Issue.” Vice Magazine. 7 August. Print.
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.
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.
Romke Hoogwaerts & Charlotte Cotton, Mossless 4, 30 June. Print.
Sayantan Mukhopadhyay & Shauna Jean Doherty, “Meld with Something.” Exhibition Booklet. 7 April.
Scott Indresik, “Sex, Elvis, and Eggleston: Tommy Kha’s World.” Modern Painters. 1 April. p 36.
“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.
Caterina Lobenstein, ” Sie Dürfen Mich Jetzt Küssen.” Zeit Campus. 8 April. pp 8-14.
Alessia Delisi, “Return to Sender.” Wu Magazine. 11 February. pp 14-19.
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.
Kelvin Soh, “Return to Sender.” Le Roy. 19 September. pp 22-34.
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.
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.
2016-2018 Part-time Lecturer, Introduction to Photography – Rutgers University, Newark, NJ