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Tseng Kwong Chi is one of those enigmatic figures of the
art world, a sincere soul and agile mind who produced a serious body of work, only to pass away at a young age. In brief, this is his story. Having been raised in Hong Kong and spending his youth in Canada, Joseph Tseng pursued art studies in Paris. For a family outing which required formal wear, Tseng decided to wear a second-hand Mao suit. The reaction to his costume caught him by surprise; he witnessed a full range of emotions by those with whom he came into contact. He had unwittingly become a representative of the Chinese government, a cultural diplomat for which he had scant credentials. This event, in the late 1970s, was key to his artistic development—Tseng played this up to the fullest, going on to austerely pose in front of monuments and tourist attractions around the world. These self-portraits, made under his birth name of Tseng Kwong Chi, have now been gathered together in the first major monograph on the artist.
Tseng Kwong Chi, born 1950, was an important documentarian and denizen of the downtown 1980’s New York club and art scene.
Based in Portland, Oregon, Nazraeli Press publishes books specialising in contemporary photography.