Christopher K. Ho: Privileged White People
Forever & Today, Inc. presents Privileged White People, an exhibition of new work by New York artist Christopher K. Ho, on view in the organization's Chinatown/Lower East Side storefront from January 11 through February 17, 2013. Ho's work is derived from his experiences as a young immigrant from Hong Kong to Southern California, and particularly as a teen transplant to a New England boarding school. Drawing from his personal story as well as from recent observations teaching at private art colleges, Ho explores the ethos, and the corresponding aesthetics, of white privilege.
Ho's Privileged White People celebrates President Bill Clinton's 1990s, an era of progressive values epitomized by civic programs that encouraged youth participation such as Teach for America, Habitat for Humanity, and the Peace Corps. Ho's work examines how this trend toward social responsibility, combined with the economic affluence of Americans in the Northeastern United States, influenced the generation of artists who came of age at that time—a legacy that arguably continues to the present day. As socially and politically engaged art becomes conventional, the exhibition asks whether decency may replace and/or augment politics as a criterion.
Within a multidisciplinary installation of sculpture, photography, and writing, First Black President, 2012, a large-scale photographic portrait of President Clinton, is exhibited along with Young White Person, 2012, a portrait of teen actor James Van Der Beek from the popular '90s television series Dawson's Creek. Bracketing the decade of the '90s, these icons link American affluence to a distinctly American sense of decency, while intimating the latter's shortcomings.
Stacked multicolored drafts of Ho's two-hour TV pilot, Trout College, 2012, sit upon a classical green marble podium. Examining the cultural values of the Northeast, the screenplay is set in 1996 at a fictitious liberal arts college in New Hampshire and chronicles the intertwined political awakenings and personal romances of a group of multicultural students. The work expands on Ho's recent projects that explore the aesthetics and politics of American regionalism, abstraction in art, and public space, and uses the form of narrative fiction as a vehicle for engagement and critique.
Christopher K. Ho (b. 1974, Hong Kong) lives and works in New York. He received his B.F.A., B.S. (1997) in Architecture, Art, and Planning from Cornell University, Ithaca, and both his M.A. (1999) and M.Phil (2001) in Art History from Columbia University, New York. Ho's solo exhibitions and projects include Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines (2011); Fisher Press, Santa Fe (2010, with Kevin Zucker); Winkleman Gallery, New York (2010, 2008); Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, Wilmington, NC (2009); and Galerie EDS, Mexico City (2009). Ho has produced site-specific installations for Other Gallery, Shanghai (2010); Busan Biennale, Busan, Korea (2008); Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, Jamaica, NY (2007); Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens (2003); and Queens Museum of Art, Queens (2001). Ho's work has been featured in group exhibitions at The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Project Space, New York (2012); International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), Brooklyn (2012); Cranbrook Art Museum, Bloomfield Hills, MI (2011); Islip Art Museum, Islip, NY (2011); Dallas Contemporary, Dallas (2010); Freies Museum, Berlin (2010); Momenta Art, Brooklyn (2010); Chinese Biennial, Chinese Base and Huan Tie Museum, Beijing (2009); DiverseWorks, Houston (2009); Incheon Biennale, Incheon, Korea (2009); Museum of Contemporary Art, Republic of Srpska, Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina (2008); Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland (2007); Sara Meltzer Gallery, New York (2007); Soap Factory, Minneapolis (2006); and Smack Mellon, Brooklyn (2003, 2000), among others. Ho has been a resident at Jackson Hole Art Center, Wyoming (2008), Franconia Sculpture Park, Franconia, MN (2005), and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), New York (2004). His work has been featured in publications including Artforum.com, Art in America, Art Papers, ArtReview, Bomb, Modern Painters, The New York Times, and TimeOut New York, among others. Ho has lectured widely and taught at numerous academic institutions, serving as the 2010 Critical Studies Fellow at Cranbrook Academy and teaching since 2000 in the Departments of Painting and Liberal Arts at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Ho is represented by Winkleman Gallery, New York.
Christopher K. Ho's Privileged White People is organized by Sara Reisman, Forever & Today Inc.'s Guest Curator 2012-2013. Reisman is the Director of New York City's Percent for Art program that commissions permanent public artworks for newly constructed and renovated city-owned spaces, indoors and out. Recently commissioned artists include Mary Mattingly, Duke Riley, Roxy Paine, Odili Donald Odita, Julianne Swartz, and Karyn Olivier, among others. Reisman has curated exhibitions and projects for numerous institutions, non-profits, and other art spaces including The Cooper Union School of Art, New York; Smack Mellon, New York; Queens Museum of Art, New York; Socrates Sculpture Park, New York; Philadelphia ICA, Philadelphia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Banjaluka, Bosnia and Herzegovina; and Kunsthalle Exnergasse, Vienna, among others. She was the 2011 critic-in-residence at Art Omi, an international visual artist residency in upstate New York.
Special thanks to Ben Wolf Noam; Molly O'Brien of NURTUREart; Herb Tam and Nancy A. Bulalacao of Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA); the students of Juan Morel Campos Secondary School, I.S./H.S. 71, Brooklyn; and Theresa Choi, Forever & Today, Inc. Postgraduate Fellow.