Tommy Kha (b. 1988, Memphis, Tennessee) lives in Brooklyn, and works between New York City and Memphis. His work has also been published in Vice Magazine, Musée Magazine, It’s Nice That, Modern Painters, Humble Arts, Slate, the Huffington Post, BUTT Magazine, Hyperallergic, Buzzfeed, and Miranda July’s “We Think Alone” and exhibited at LMAK Gallery, Deli Gallery, Foley Gallery, Ryerson Artspace, Georgia Scherman Projects, Aperture, Signal Gallery, ALLGOLD at MoMA PS1 Printshop, Johalla Projects, Yongkang Lu Art, and Kunstverein Wolfsburg. He was an En Foco Photography Fellowship recipient, and formerly artist-in-residence through the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Light Work, and Fountainhead. Through Aint-Bad, Kha published his first monograph, A Real Imitation. He appeared in Laurie Simmons’ narrative feature, My Art. Most recently, he appeared on the cover of Vice Magazine’s Photography Issue. He received his Photography MFA from Yale University.
Through the framework of the self-portrait, I constantly navigate between self and otherness in my photography. Themes of likeness and representation are at the forefront of my picture making. I shift between comedy and tragedy, familiarity and foreignness, performer and camera operator.
Most recently, I use my body—specifically photographic prints of myself—to alter the way I look photographed, reflecting the divide between the self and the photographed self—the Shadow.
I’m Only Here to Leave is comprised in iterations. These cutouts of my body and masks of my face come from photographs I’ve made of myself, effectively, these photographs can be seen as “pictures of pictures.” Through the camera, they transform into seemingly minimal collage, or a bad Photoshop job. The images almost always point out how out-of-place my photographed body is, echoing everyday experiences. Specifically with the mask, I place my face on queer, Asian, and Southern bodies—or simply, bodies I desire to have, I try to make myself more queer, more Asian, more Southern.
In short, my work is about the self in self-portrait, the portrait in self-portrait, and the hyphen in self-portrait.