Standing in one of Do Ho Suh’s installations is like having X-ray vision. Using sheer fabric, the Korean, New York-based artist recreates architectural aspects of the homes he’s lived in over the years to explore memory, contemporary identity and our interpretation of home.
“I see life as a passageway, with no fixed beginning or destination. We tend to focus on the destination all the time and forget about the in-between spaces,” says Do Ho Suh.
For his first major presentation on the East Coast at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington DC, Suh has brought together a trio of his colourful Hub sculptures that represent three different domestic spaces of residences the artist has lived in.
The hallway of Suh’s New York apartment is pink, the Berlin apartment where he lived in 2000 is green and in blue is the corridor of his childhood home in Seoul. The latter is a new work that is being exhibited for the first time.
The hand-sewn installation distils the transitory nature of existence into an ethereal structure that invites visitors to move not only through time and space, but to also intimately experience a very personal area, which over the years would have been inhabited by many different people.
Although the installation is minimal, Suh includes certain details associated with each domestic space, from door handles and an air-conditioner extractor hose to building signage and light fittings. These features denote the difference in cultural styles of the interiors, giving the uncanny sculptures a familiar, yet intriguing marker that anyone can relate to.
In addition to the installation, you can also see a selection of Suh’s drawings as well as a series of household objects that have been replicated in the semi-transparent fabric, which the artist aptly refers to as Specimens.
Sarah Newman, curator of Do Ho Suh: Almost Home, says: “This exhibition is a good fit for SAAM because it takes a broad view of national identity and encourages us to think about American life as made up of many different experiences and many layers.
“Do Ho Suh’s work reminds us that individual places really matter and as global as the modern world is, it’s still anchored by tradition and culture.”
Due to the delicate nature of the installation’s material there are certain stipulations: Children under five can’t enter the installation and adults must accompany children under 12; coats, oversize bags and strollers are to be left in the gallery’s designated area; and a gallery attendant can assist those with mobility aids.
Do Ho Suh: Almost Home is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets, NW, Washington DC 20004 until 5 August 2018. Open daily 11.30am–7pm. Free admission.
Want to see more amazing art installations? Check out Artist Jad El Khoury Transforms Beirut Skyscraper With Colour.