Stunning Silk-Fabric Lifesize Building Replications by Do Ho Suh
Introducing a “Home Within Home Within Home Within Home Within Home” made of blue thread.
Do Ho Suh came to America from South Korea as a failed marine biologist - or rather, a failed marine biology prerequisite qualifier. As he tells Wall Street Journal Magazine, his math scores were a stigma by scientific academia’s standards, so he turned to art instead.
But it wasn’t until his tenure at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) that he began sculpting, in a shift away from the traditional Korean art he’d studied in secondary school.
That was two decades ago, when Suh had yet to establish himself as an international contender in sculpture and design. But even today, the move is remarkably pivotal. Looking at the ongoing themes of Suh’s work, it’s arguably responsible for engendering the intricate, phantom limb-like sculptures which substantiate the marrow of his fame.
His most recent exhibit, “Home Within Home Within Home Within Home Within Home,” is nostalgia actualized. On display at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Seoul, South Korea, the installation (construction site? memorial?) consists of a 1:1 scale silk-fabric replication of the traditional Korean home Suh lived in as a child, erected within another 1:1 scale silk-fabric replication of the apartment building he inhabited when he first moved to Providence, Rhode Island.
Designed with the help of a 3D scanning machine, the 12 meter by 15 meter display is both a rumination on space and a rich silhouette of Suh’s personal past. It puts into perspective the spatial properties of two cultures, two times and two complete individuals - one young, one old; one Korean, one international. Suh’s ongoing attempt to reconcile these two identities is contextualized through the artistic process of interpreting one figure as a part of the other, much like the buildings here. They fit in the same space yet remain distinctly separate and empty, like an oasis within a memory.
Similar in name, it’s not to be confused with his 2011 work, “Home Within Home,” which ran in New York at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery, and consisted of recreations of the interior of his parent’s Korean home and other relevant constructs across Styrofoam, resin and fabric mediums.
No, this one is more singular, even in its attempt to thread together 5 locales: his child home, the Rhode Island apartment complex, the MMCA, the former palace complex the MMCA resides in, and, finally, the city of Seoul, where Suh was born. The piece runs until May 11, 2014, and is presented in tandem with the MMCA’s Seoul branch debut.
All photos courtesy the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea.