Christopher K. Ho: Privileged White People
January 11-February 24, 2013

Curated by Sara Reisman, Guest Curator 2012/13
141 Division Street
New York, NY 10002

Thursday-Sunday, 12-6pm

Reception: Thursday, January 10, 6-8pm

Off-site Program: Thursday, February 7, 6:30-8:30
Museum of Chinese in America
215 Centre Street, NYC

December 17, 2012, New York, NY – 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–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 North East, 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.

In Acceptance Letter, 2012, Trout College's seal and Latin motto, Fortitudine ad Urnam (Fortitude Forever), appear as watermarks on handmade paper alongside a semiotic square that maps the relationship between white privilege and recent art practices. The work also includes sheets of glass balanced upon bottles of iconic Japanese designer Issey Miyake's L'eau D'Issey, a signature fragrance of the '90s. The fragrance permeates the exhibition space.

A public program featuring a reading from Ho's screenplay, Trout College, takes place at Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) on Thursday, February 7. Texts of individual scenes from the script will be available to the public as a takeaway from the event. The reading is followed by a brief conversation between Ho and Sara Reisman, Guest Curator 2012/13 at Forever & Today, Inc. The program will conclude with an audience Q&A segment afterward.

SPECIAL THANKS to Ben Wolf Noam; Molly O'Brien of NURTUREart; Herb Tam and Ryan Wong of the Museum of Chinese in America; the students of Juan Morel Campos Secondary School, I.S./H.S. 71, Brooklyn; and Theresa Choi, Forever & Today, Inc. Postgraduate Fellow.