Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera presents for the first time a comprehensive survey of the work of Tseng Kwong Chi, a revered photographer and performance artist of the 1980s. This lavishly illustrated 178-page monograph features 35 color and 95 duotone images and includes four essays exploring Tseng’s brief but prolific career and his multifaceted oeuvre. Reproducing more than 100 works by Tseng from the late 1970s to the late 1980s—and including archival materials and images from his commissions for the Soho Weekly News—the book represents in depth Tseng’s best-known self-portrait series, East Meets West. To create these performative, politically provocative photographs, the Hong Kong–born artist donned a so-called “Mao suit” and posed in front of iconic tourist destinations. In so doing, he strikingly dramatized issues of personal identity and cultural politics.Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera also features less familiar bodies of work such as the Moral Majority series, which ironically portrays ultra-conservative politicians posing in front of a wrinkled American flag. Tseng was also a key documentarian of the lively New York downtown scene of the 1980s, shooting thousands of compelling images, including portraits of his friends Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ann Magnuson, and Kenny Scharf.
Published to accompany Tseng Kwong Chi’s first major retrospective—organized by the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia, and the Grey Art Gallery at New York University—the book includes contributions by Amy Brandt, PhD, McKinnon Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Chrysler Museum of Art; Lynn Gumpert, Director, Grey Art Gallery, New York University; Alexandra Chang, Curator of Special Projects and Director of Global Arts Programs, Asian/Pacific/American Institute, New York University; Joshua Takano Chambers-Letson, Assistant Professor of Performance Studies, Northwestern University; and the artist’s sister, choreographer and dancer Muna Tseng, director of the Tseng Kwong Chi Estate. The book also features a comprehensive exhibition history and bibliography.