Architecture of the Home: Do Ho Suh
August 17, 2011
Photos via Julie Yonehara
In Home Within Home, an upcoming show at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York, South Korean artist Do Ho Suh will present a series of architectural spaces carefully constructed out of fabrics, resin and Styrofoam. These intricate sculptures play with traditional notions of space, scale and site specificity, and they are not to be missed. Click to see more.
As the title of the gallery show suggests, Suh’s work examines the concept of home and attempts to deconstruct what it means to identify with a place. The artist contemplates strongly architectural issues often as a way to explore themes of cultural displacement and cultural identity. The story behind his work is deceptively simple. The artist left Korea in 1991 to distance himself from his father’s established reputation as a painter and to study at the Rhode Island School of Design. Upon relocating to New York, he found himself longing for his native home and unable to sleep. Much of his art is an attempt to reconcile the distance between the two places he calls home.
Suh thus conceived of a way to bring the space of his parents’ house to his new home in the United States. The artist returned to the house in Korea and meticulously took measurements of the entire interior, which proved to be an intimate activity in itself. He then constructed an exact portable replica of the interior of the house using measured and stitched pieces of cloth.
With this cloth replica, the artist could carry a deeply personal space with him, much like how a snail carries his home wherever he goes, using the artist’s own analogy. Suh spoke of how he had discovered many things in the process of painstakingly measuring the house. As he took in every detail, from window mullions to light switches to the little marks he made as a child, he found that the space became a part of him.
In “Fallen Star 1/5,” which will be on display at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, Suh constructed a model of a traditional Korean house collided with a nineteenth-century American mansion at one-fifth scale. The sculpture is described as a “sort of self-portrait,” a whimsical expression of the artist’s personal journey from Korea to the U.S.
In an interview for Art21, Suh divulged his experience of being an immigrant in America, a subject that clearly motivates his work. He is a man of few words, but his words speak volumes to me, especially as an Asian American. With this constant feeling of displacement he feels comes a valuable artistic quality, a critical distance that has allowed the artist to take a step back and examine both of the cultures that have become part of his identity. The results, needless to say, are stunning.
Home Within Home will be at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York from September 8 – October 22, 2011.