Navigating the field of creative, eccentric self-portraiture can be a minefield, full of clichés and missteps. Somehow, this young photographer has found a way to enliven the genre, with a body of work that is alternately sweet, comic, sentimental, campy, vulnerable, and formally astute. Along the way, he makes sure to nod to his sexuality and race, not to mention his upbringing in the American South.
Kha is a busy man, juggling a number of projects at once. One of them is a series, “Return to Sender,” in which friends, acquaintances, and others kiss him in staged vignettes. Another is “I’m Only Here To Leave,” which mixes sculpture with photography. “Through stock images, I fabricated a 3D-printed mask of my face,” he explains, “and then I have queer, Asian bodies wear that mask—attempting to make myself more queer, more Asian. I’m also working with photographic prints of my body: creating cardboard cut-outs of myself, placing them in the world, and documenting them.”
Given his Memphis roots, Kha has always had something of an Elvis fetish. An ongoing series involves photographic portraits of Elvis impersonators (who Kha stresses like to call themselves “Elvis Tribute Artists,” which sounds more refined). He’s also entertaining another long-running obsession—with the NBC police drama Law & Order: SVU, now in its 18th season. “I’ve joined a casting agency,” he tells me. “My dream is to be in the background of an SVU episode—dead or alive. I’ve been making a video-art ‘documentary’ about this.” He’s also been filming himself in some rather unique scenarios: “I’ve been having athletic people throw me over their shoulders and squat me,” he says.