I am an inquisitive traveler. A witness of my time and an ambiguous traveler.
- Tseng Kwong Chi
Tseng Kwong Chi began the series East Meets West in 1979. Dressed in a Mao worker's suit, he posed himself with celebrities, passing himself off as a Chinese dignitary. Although Kwong Chi had never traveled to China, his alterego had transformed itself into his self-appointed ambassador acting in response to the superficiality of diplomatic relations between the United States and China. These photographs, smartly executed, tongue-in-cheek, earnest and brave, are as much a part of the profusion of stereotype-busting art of the 1980s as the work of Robert Mapplethorpe or Keith Haring, a close friend. He responded to the issues of "otherness" and alienation with harmony and inclusiveness.
East Meets West - Celebrity Panel is a unique narrative overview of the series. It is thoughtfully arranged and it is no accident that the first image pairs Kwong Chi with Andy Warhol. The sequence of the work follows through with other celebrities including Nancy Kissinger, wife of Henry Kissinger - a sly political reference to the age of detente. Lastly, we see Kwong Chi with Dan Friedman, his lover and the original owner of the work.