Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present Happy Birthday, our first solo exhibition by New York artist Christopher K. Ho. In five new pieces, Ho explores how collaboration, willing or not, between protagonists of the art world—artists, collectors, critics, and gallerists—ascribes aesthetic and monetary value to an artist’s work.
Happy Birthday culminates and continues Ho’s decade-long collaborative practice. In all but one work, Happy Birthday to Jen, Ho approaches collaboration as the basic condition of possibility for contemporary art. This approach does not diverge from his previous, literal collaborations with other artists, so much as evidences a more complex understanding of collaboration as an inherent characteristic of almost all art to be made manifest. Each work systematically and often humorously interrogates the inter-subjective relations between pairs of protagonists (artist-artist, artist-gallerist, gallerist-collector, and artist-critic). Additionally, the viewing public is implicated in Happy Birthday from Nuit and Happy Birthday to Mrs. X, which exist partially through word-of-mouth.
Happy Birthday consists predominantly of hints of previous transactions or agreements: a red dot accompanying the exhibition’s title; an anachronistic catalogue featuring sited, ephemeral works that have been re-dated and retroactively priced; an actual birthday party during the opening reception; and a rumor (or two) about a change in gallery ownership. Ho’s exhibition operates within the prevalent context of commercial art, even as it largely denies the viewer the conspicuous signifiers of such a context. Rather than obvious items for sale or contemplation, the gallery is empty except for a somewhat hidden, monochromatic life-sized sculpture of the gallerist, Edward Winkleman, in his “birthday suit.”
As art historian and critic Nuit Banai notes in her accompanying catalogue essay, “Ho not only gives up any notion of the integral author, but decenters the work and its meaning into an expanded field of massculturally produced protagonists, techniques, and supplements that simultaneously articulate, maintain, and subvert the logic of capital by both instantiating it and continuously deferring it.”
Christopher K. Ho has exhibited at the Queens Museum of Art; the Jamaica Center for the Arts; the H.F. Johnson Museum of Art; Marvelli Lab; the Municipal Art Society of New York; the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; Socrates Sculpture Park; Sara Meltzer Gallery; Smack Mellon Studios; the Asian American Art Center of New York; the Kunsthalle, Zurich; Galerie 5eme Etage, Paris; Tou Scene, Norway; and Fieldgate Gallery in London. He received his B.F.A. and B.S. from Cornell University and his M.Phil from Columbia University.