Hometown: Hong Kong
Lives and Works: Hong Kong
Tseng Kwong Chi, born in 1955 in Hong Kong and died in 1990.
Born and educated in Hong Kong, Tseng Kwong Chi (originally Joseph Tseng), studied in Montreal, Vancouver and Paris. In 1978, he moved to New York.
He is internationally known for his photographic series Expeditionary Self-Portrait Series a.k.a. East Meets West. In over 100 images, he poses in front of iconic architecture and sublime nature as his invented artistic persona, a Chinese “Ambiguous Ambassador” in the classic Mao suit. His work explores tourist photography in a playful juxtaposition of truth, fiction, and identity.
Mixing stereotypes in his sunglasses and Mao jacket, a visitor badge on his jacket, Tseng began “The Expeditionary Series”, featuring himself as the ubiquitous visitor from Mainland China – a place he never visited- drawn to the sites much photographed by tourists
TSENG was 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 also created vibrant colour 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.
In 1990, TSENG died at age 39 from complications related to the AIDS virus, leaving an enduring body of work that engages major photographic traditions -- the tourist snapshot, portraiture, the Sublime tradition of 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.
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