Do Ho Suh: Architectural Installations, Sculptures, Video and Works on Paper
through July 4, 2016
Article by Cathy Breslaw
Korean artist Do Ho Suh creates architectural installations, sculptures and works on paper using themes of home, identity, space, memory and migration. When Suh wanted to re-create his New York City apartment, he looked to using a transparent polyester fabric, some steel wire rods, and the old-school technique of “rubbings” to create his ‘architectural drawings’ which served as “patterns”. He wrapped his real-life walls with paper, then carefully used blue crayon/chalk to rub across all surfaces top to bottom – precisely and completely calculating all measurements. This process served as an intimate connection Suh made to ‘home’ and ‘memory’, making a literal indelible mark on his mind. The exhibition displays the immense drawings of each wall/room and all its fine details including light switches, heat regulators, locks, door knobs, pipes and fixtures. The result are room sized, transparent re-creations of his apartment, studio and staircase. Viewers can easily move through these life-sized multi-colored structures and observe all spaces at once – the appliances in the kitchen, the sink, toilet and shower in the bathroom, fans and any detailed patterns within the walls of his spaces.
In a separate museum room with black-painted walls viewers observe his series called Specimens, single-encased light boxes that house each appliance separately – refrigerator, bathtub, stove, and toilet. Suh wants us to examine them beyond the objects themselves. The colored transparency of these common objects lends a sculptural point of view – as objects of beauty. Also included in this exhibition are a series of drawings made of multi-colored threads machine stitched and applied to hand-made paper. It is within these drawings that we see some of Suh’s concentration on migration, his ideas about moving from place to place and his thoughts on identity. One drawing My Homes (2013) portrays a roughly hewn outline of a man made of black thread – while above his head two circles of several houses in various colors hang above – encapsulating Suh’s preoccupation with home, identity and moving as part of our globalized culture.
Finally, a video mixed media animation Secret Garden (2012), depicts a replica of his home in Korea built by his father and where the artist grew up, as it is transported by semi-truck across the world to its ‘new home’ at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Do Ho Suh asks “What is home, identity and personal space in this globalized world with new and changing meanings, how do we maintain stability and who are we in relationship to what used to be our anchor – our ‘home’?”
IMAGE: Installation view, Do Ho Suh, The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, Austin, 2014. Courtesy the artist; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and the Kronos Collection. Photograph by Brian Fitzsimmons.