One of the bones of contention regarding Ryder Ripps' recent Postmasters exhibition, consisting of iPhone-distorted images based on a sportswear model's Instagram photos, was his use of the model's last name "Ho" as the show's title. Some New York critics lambasted him for this. Karen Archey in Frieze wrote:
Ho is Canadian with French and Chinese ancestry, hence the show’s title is a play on her last name that manages to be racist and misogynist simultaneously.
Johanna Fateman in Artforum added:
The most scathing critics of his new work characterize it as banal theft and sexist defacement of a woman’s images, calling out the puerile double entendre of the show’s title while they’re at it.
Artforum contributing writer Sarah Nicole Prickett tweeted:
Spends two weeks defending his feminist credentials, incredulously, after being like, called out for having a show called "Ho" as if double entendres didn't exist...
And yet, the model Adrianne Ho jokingly labels her own Twitter account "Follow a Ho! SWEAT THE STYLE":
And is profiled in "Status" magazine in an article with the title Not Your Average Ho, containing still more jokes at her own expense:
Men dominate streetwear, but with 25-year-old muse ADRIANNE HO being Hypebeast’s pick as “The Unofficial Face of Menswear,” people might want to think twice. She appreciates a good pun and often has a self-deprecating streak in reference to her surname. Her Twitter account is filled with tweets like “It’s hot out here for a Ho” and “Ho on the go.”
Are we "slut-shaming" here? Was Ripps? The arena for the slur was a prominent NY gallery, where privileged left-of-center bohemians bait other privileged left-of-center bohemians to claim the moral high ground. Shaming a "slut" is just as tacky in that world as being one. We could talk about Ho's "interior colonization" in using an epithet of her oppressors to self-identify. Or we could talk about "click-whoring" -- a term often used without gender association and practiced by many art magazines and non-profits in our current dystopian era of pervasive social media. We didn't talk about those things because none of the critics did any investigation to see where the use of "Ho" in its double meanings originated. It was presumed to be a one-sided gender slur and left at that (to the artist's reputational detriment).