Christopher K. Ho and Roger White Discuss "Privileged White People" and Art: Page 3 of 3
Christopher K. Ho and Roger White Discuss "Privileged White People" and Art
RW: It does, it does. But I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Do you think that, on a level of politics beyond the interpersonal within art, those values are still beneficial? Because that’s where we typically run into difficulties with this idea of the well-meaning liberal subject.
CKH: I have an answer, but I actually want to ask you.
RW: Well, getting back to Clinton: He is beloved and it was a stable time, and since his presidency he has been a benevolent political actor, more so than most. But at the same time, he was instrumental in laying the groundwork for an ordering of the world that is hardly empathic. nafta, extreme deregulation, the Sudanese baby-formula factory! The stability and inclusiveness he presided over was built on a lot of unrecognized exclusions.
CKH: My sense, too, is that this kind of apolemical, apolitical stance, in art or in actual politics, or with people, seems decent or good at the time but opens up a society, or an art world, or an aesthetic sphere, to possibly negative influences. The danger of the modest abstract painting that we’re seeing now is that it doesn’t dig its heels in, it doesn’t take a position or work for or against something. As a result, who knows what will follow? It may be the most undisciplined kind of art with the most insidious politics without discernible ethics. But I hope that modest Bushwick abstraction signals a paradigm shift, and that this shift will soon become decisive and dimensional, even if we remain blind to the details now.
RW: So in this sympathetic reading, it’s a transitional phenomenon.
CKH: In the best-case scenario, it is. I have a question for you: If narrative is the carrier for whatever the content of this post-political art is, where is the narrative, for instance, in your abstract painting?
RW: Maybe narrative is one possibility, and another involves perception, or affect. Looking at a picture and reading a story are complementary modes of engagement. They can house critique or affirmation equally, and neither is reducible to those functions.
CKH: Or, we’re not literally looking for narrative in abstract painting—because then we would be looking for history painting. We’re looking for something analogous.
RW: What is this pink thing under my chair here?
CKH: It’s a chunk of Himalayan rock salt. I’m doing another series of watermarked paper, and they’re going to be propped up with those. The salt will be etched with emblems derived from various boarding schools.
RW: Is this another ’90s thing that I missed?
CKH: You shave it over food. You can warm it up and put salmon on top of it.
This article was published in the January issue of Modern Painters.