Sunday, September 14, 2014

Out Spotlight

Today's Out Spotlight was a photographer who was active in the East Village art scene in the 1980s. Today's Out Spotlight is Tseng Kwong Chi.

Tseng Kwong Chi (family name of Tseng listed first in traditional Chinese style. He usually went by "Joseph Tseng" prior to his photography career), was born in Hong Kong in 1950.

Although born in Hong Kong, and educated in Hong Kong, at approximately age of sixteen Tseng's parents moved the family to Canada. There, Tseng originally studied painting at Academie Julien, but switched to photography after one year. He went on to study in Vancouver, Montreal and Paris. In 1978, he moved to New York City.

Tseng became internationally known for his photographic series Expeditionary Self-Portrait Series a.k.a. East Meets West. In over 100 images, he posed in front of iconic architecture and sublime nature as his invented artistic persona, a Chinese “Ambiguous Ambassador” in the classic Mao suit, he found in a thrift store.

 Tseng dressed in what he called his "Mao suit" and sunglasses (dubbed a "wickedly surrealistic persona" by the New York Times), and photographed himself situated, often emotionlessly, in front of iconic tourist sites. These included the Statue of Liberty, Cape Canaveral, Disney Land, Notre Dame de Paris, and the World Trade Center.

“A cross between Ansel Adams and Cindy Sherman,” the work explores tourist photography in a playful juxtaposition of truth, fiction, and identity.

According to his sister, he drew artistic influence from Brassai and Cartier-Bresson.

He became an important documentarian and denizen of the downtown 1980’s New York club and art scene. During his brief but prolific 10-year career, he created over 100,000 vibrant color and black-and-white photographs of his contemporaries Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Julian Schnabel, Jean-Michel Basquiat, McDermott and McGough, Kenny Scharf, Philip Taaffe, Madonna, Grace Jones, the B-52’s, and Fab Five Freddy, among others, a rich historical archive of the decade.

Tseng took tens of thousands of photographs of New York graffiti artist Keith Haring throughout the 1980s working on murals, installations and the subway. In 1984, his photographs were shown with Haring's work at the opening of the Semaphore Gallery's East Village location in a show titled "Art in Transit".

He also photographed the first Concorde landing at Kennedy International Airport, from the tarmac.

In 1990, Tseng died at age 39 from complications related to the AIDS virus, was survived by his companion of seven years Robert-Kristoffer Haynes, who remains a resident of New York City and serves as Registrar at Paula Cooper Gallery. He left an enduring body of work that engages major photographic traditions -- the tourist snapshot, portraiture, landscape photography, documentary and performance.

Tseng’s photographs have been exhibited widely in international exhibitions and are in numerous major public museums and private collections including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. His work has been included in the Asian American Arts Centre's digital archive.


Seaweed said...

I finally had a chance to watch Jakes interview with Jian Ghomeshi. It was a lengthy interview that had flow and articulation about film and the interpretation in movies and his views in how this all comes together. I was lulled by the soothing sound of his voice and his apparent honesty with Jian, with his comfort level and even his occasional teasing of his host over his “creepy” commentary. Jake seemed very much at ease and all was moving along. Not much in the way of flirting as I’ve seen before with Jake and other interviewers, just a good exchange of questions and and answers.
At the end I was so taken with the immediate change of status with Jake’s reaction to that last question...... the “oh no”. The was the first awareness that his handlers and 10% ‘ers were present, he was in almost total confusion. Wow! It was so obvious that his reaction to a very simple and elemental question, was like some kind of painful devastation, he was totally disarmed. It was awkward ! ! ! ! The broken responses from that point on just confirmed his inability to focus or even deflect.
Here are some of those broken statements ...
“You wake up in the night and the fear is so real... “ (the Bruce Springsteen quote)
“There are all of those.... (drifts off)
”I feel, I feel really ... I just, I feel really grateful for my........... (drones on about something else)
Jian realizes that he’s stumped Jake and even tries to make light of it but Jake just continues to babble on and hesitate until he wraps up with some other nonsense towards the end.
At one point I thought Jake was trying to imply he had given this interview and he almost seemed to be pissed at CBC, but again he deflects.
I’d agree with M&M, that a psychiatrist would have a field day with Jakes responses and body language after that last question. Again.... WoW !

destiny said...

I haven't had a chance to watch the interview because it's so long. I will definitely check it out when I can.

I can't believe I've never heard of Tseng since he took so many photos of Haring. Very Interesting photos. Thank for the Spotlight.