Return to Sender by Tommy Kha
For a while now, I've invited people to kiss me, but I don't kiss them back.
These people are strangers, friends, friends of friends, the occasional barflies, a few–very few ex-lovers, and some mentors. I tell them all the same thing: they can kiss me however they want, but they have to kiss me on the lips.
Since the photographs take place at night, the exposures are longer, so the Kissers have to hold their pose for the camera, while I remain deadpan, assuming this passive character I've created.
I'd break from the Kiss–that's how the person who is kissing me knows it's safe to move. I run back to the camera, reviewing the photograph, making minor changes. Most of the time, I'd direct them to turn their head slightly so the light can hit their face more. Or they moved slightly, and we have to make the picture again.
I never tell them how to kiss me, allowing them to maintain a sense of control over their own depiction. Some would leave space between us. A few would touch my face, or my shoulders. A favorite is picking me up physically.
I had some try to put their tongue in me.
Return to Sender (2010 – ongoing; well, occasionally ongoing)
Tommy Kha lives and works in New York and Memphis, Tennessee. His first monograph, A Real Imitation, was recently published through Aint-Bad Editions.
To view more of Tommy's work, please visit his website.