CHRISTOPHER K. HO

An Untitled Place

source: christopherho

Reflexive and often context-generated, recent projects focus on regional practices and on romantic narratives in order to deepen and expand a particular history of site specificity and institutional critique to which I am indebted and remain committed. For instance, my 2010 solo exhibition Regional Painting involved living and working for a year in a mountain shed covered in license plates. The recourse to a solitary artistic experience was both an earnest attempt to rediscover painting and a response to conventional critical art’s limitations. In addition to the sojourn itself, the exhibition included paintings by Hirsch E.P. Rothko (an anagram of Christopher K. Ho) and a semi-fictional memoir of the year published as a pocket paperback.

The figure of the committed artist has long been reduced to a trope or inscribed in precisely the consumer culture it sought, but largely failed, to transgress and transform. But art as a committed practice is—I believe—viable, even necessary, still. Resistance no longer means dissolving the boundaries between the aesthetic and the everyday (the old avant-garde model), much less preserving an autonomous space for and of art (an even older modernist model). Rather, it entails approaching these models as themselves forming a binary that generates third terms in an expanded field. These third terms vary, and may include: a radical temporality (geologic time in Lesbian Mountain in Love), an obscure tense (the future perfect in Busan 2020), an affirmative capitalism (post-technological nature in The Pasture), and a relative site specificity (space-time travel in Kingcharlesrufuskingmartinluther).

To what end, these third terms? Now as ever, art hovers on the precipice of irrelevance and solipsism. Culture’s distance from reality grants it unique freedom to critique and comment on reality, and sometimes to propose alternatives. That same distance also consigns art to the margins. Articulating a field of positions (rather than thinking in terms of political, social or even formal ends) counters the threat of irrelevance in two ways at least. First, it insists on approaching individual artworks in relation to a broader context. Second, more sophisticatedly, it asks that artists invent contexts for their work, reversing the order of things: art is not so much a symptom of its environment as it underwrites another world, governed by its own internal logic and dynamic. In this inverted site specificity, the privileged term is fiction, for which art is both a vehicle and clue.
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source: christopherho

An Untitled Place, 2009

iPod video + performance

In ‘An Untitled Place,’ a performer (played by Grady Owens) dressed like a magician collapses during the opening of ‘Phantom Limb,’ an exhibition curated by Mari Spirito about that which is not there. After collapsing, he rises laboriously, as if impeded by a gravitational pull greater than our own, stands, and collapses again in approximately 30-minute intervals. His right hand grasps a slightly outmoded silver iPod (minus earphones) playing video footage of the US flag on the moon. Only the occasional astronaut and slight camera movement disturb the stillness of the frame. The exhibition’s July 16, 2009, opening coincided with the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11’s launch.