Headtown II, 2016

Insensitive Flesh

Tommy Kha

Opening Reception: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 | 6-8pm
Exhibition dates:
 May 1 – June 1, 2019
Coffee Talk: Saturday, May 18th | 11am
Conversation with Pixy Liao: Wednesday, May 22nd | 7pm

Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York is pleased to present Insensitive Flesh by 2018 Workspace Resident Tommy Kha, opening May 1, 2019 and on view through June 1, 2019. This exhibition, comprised of new photographic and photo-sculptural works, explores themes of likeness, representation, and otherness through the framework of the self-portrait.

In his work, Kha photographs his own body to create life size cutouts of his body and masks of his face. Using these cutouts and masks, he then rephotographs them in various scenarios interacting with a regular cast of sitters including his mother, Queer, and Asian figures, and in different geographic settings—often taking place in the South. These rephotographs echo performances of and around his self, resulting in a photograph and subject sitting somewhere between a still life, portrait and self-portrait, and landscape.

Through the camera, Kha’s rephotographs, or “pictures of pictures”, are sourced directly from an autobiographical archive, transformed into seemingly minimal collage work done within the camera. The cutouts change in appearance, whereas the masks manifest as different materials—either as 3-D printed, cloth, or paper—both never remain the exact, same form. The jigsaw puzzles echo the cutouts, though they often appear never fully assembled.

The images consistently point out how out-of-place his photographed body is, echoing his everyday experiences. Specifically with the mask, Kha resituates his face on Queer, Asian, and Southern bodies—or simply, bodies he desires to have, thereby making himself more queer, more Asian, more Southern. His work shifts between comedy and tragedy, familiarity and foreignness, performer and camera operator. In short, Kha’s work is about the self in self-portrait, the portrait in self-portrait, and the hyphen in self-portrait.

Insensitive Flesh is dedicated in memory of William Kiersky.

Tommy Kha (b. 1988, Memphis, Tennessee) received his Photography MFA from Yale University. His work has been published in Vice Magazine, Modern Painters, Slate, the Huffington Post, BUTT Magazine, Hyperallergic, Buzzfeed, and Miranda July’s “We Think Alone” and exhibited at Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Teen Party, Aperture, Yongkang Lu Art in Shanghai, and Kunstverein Wolfsburg in Germany. He is a Hyères Photography finalist, an En Foco Photography Fellowship recipient, and a former artist-in-residence at the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Light Work, Fountainhead, and Baxter Street at the Camera Club of New York. Through Aint-Bad, Kha published his first monograph, A Real Imitation. He appeared in Laurie Simmons’ narrative feature, My Art. His work was the cover of Vice Magazine’s 2017 Photography Issue. His first solo show debuted at Blue Sky Gallery. This is Kha’s first solo show in New York City and has a forthcoming exhibition at LMAK Gallery in fall 2019. He currently lives and works in New York City.

Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York operates as a 501(c)3 arts organization and is located at 126 Baxter St and 128 Baxter St. Each year Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York selects four emerging photographers living in New York City for the Workspace Residency Program, which offers them analog and digital workspace at the International Center of Photography, access to the Baxter St at CCNY community and programs, and solo exhibitions at Baxter St. This exhibition is the fourth in a series of four solo exhibitions by 2018 winners of the Workspace Residency, supported by the Jerome Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, Fujifilm of North America, Awagami Factory, and Yarden Wines. Baxter St is W.A.G.E. certified.