Tommy Kha: Ghost Bites

February 8 – March 23, 2023

Opening reception: Wednesday, February 8, 6pm – 8pm

Baxter St is proud to present Ghost Bites, a solo exhibition featuring recent photographic prints and vinyl images by Tommy Kha, the winner of the 2021 Aperture & Baxter St Next Step Award. As the recipient, Kha was awarded the opportunity to expand his photographic practice and mark this significant achievement with a solo exhibition. The exhibition title references ma cắn, the Vietnamese phrase that refers to mysterious scratches and bruises that appear on the skin from unknown sources. Ghost Bites explores Kha’s interests in how community and “preservation of the everyday” find expanded expression in a range of photographic forms. In addition to the exhibition, Next Step Award partner Aperture will release Half, Full, Quarter, the artist’s first ever major monograph, published in partnership with the 7G Foundation.

Ghost Bites takes as a through-line the image of a shrine, assembling Kha’s photographs depicting his friends, family, and home, as well as the landscape and architecture of the American South where the artist grew up. Also appearing in the Aperture monograph, Kha’s photographs in the show include images of actual shrines he encountered in passing near the entryways of various Asian American homes and establishments. The artist also offers the shrine as a theoretical metaphor for photography itself, pondering how shrines, like photos, are portals to the past. Similar to the role of a shrine, photography can consecrate, transform, and transport its subjects.

Included in the works on view is a selection of photographs taken by Kha’s mother, as well as photo-sculptures inspired by customized trinkets peddled in gift shops and online. The images are connected to Kha’s own family’s immigration, a journey across North America, ultimately arriving in Tennessee. They also bear a fleeting trace of the Southern Gothic tradition. Kha turns these images into a new form that is both abject self-figuration and wryly grim commentary on America’s too-often-simplified views of complex racial realities.

Related Events