Memphis-based photographer Tommy Kha likes to say that his work "operates in the conventions of the Self-Portrait, exploring the divide between self, depiction, image, and representation, and the relationship between performance and the camera."
Or, as he also says, "My work is about the self in "self-portrait," the portrait in "self-portrait," and the hyphen in "self-portrait."
A man of Chinese background, Kha is from Memphis, which gives him lots of material to work with in exploration of images of self, performance, and representation.
After all, in Memphis, by being interested in the performance of one's identity, Kha is right at home in the world of Elvis and Otis Redding.
So, right now Kha has work in a group show called Meld with Something at the Ryerson Arts Space in Toronto, up through May 1st, 2016.
His first book, Tommy Kha : A Real Imitation is just out from Ain't-Bad Editions.
Kha will have a solo show of his work opening in Memphis in August.
No surprize, then that his work is getting lots of notice.Here, for example, from BLOUINArtInfo, "A Real Imitation."
And here, from Fraction Magazine, "Return to Sender."
And here, from the Humble Arts Foundation, "Justine Kirkland in Conversation with Tommy Kha."
Kirkland says of Kha, that "obsessed with photography's tendency to reveal and conceal, and [with] a nod to Diane Arbus' description of photography as a "purveyor of secrets," Kha pushes its function with quiet and sometimes humorous images that depict and exaggerate his alienation."
Exceptionally interesting story, Seeing what the Eye Cannot, by Kha, here, from Lost Weekend, about his meeting with a Chinese photographer Ren Hang.
To me, Kha's photographs bring to the world of Southern fine art photography a conceptual sensibility (Kha has an MFA from Yale) that transcends the often seemingly random and superficial character of much conceptual photography.
Kha is dealing with issues of multiple identities, of "insider" and "outsider" roles, of who is "at home" and who is the "stranger" in a Southern context.
These are important issues for us, to which Kha brings a practice and a perspective that is already yielding significant work, and significant recognition.
And its only April of 2016.