The 58th Venice Biennale, May You Live In Interesting Times (11 May–24 November 2019), certainly benefitted from low expectations, given the lacklustre curatorial of the previous edition, when different segments of the show were conceptually framed with titles like 'Pavilion of Joys and Fears' and 'Pavilion of Colours'. Add to this the...
Hong Kong-based artist Zheng Bo's social, ecological, and community-engaged art practice has, in recent years, focused on moving beyond a human-centred perspective to an all-inclusive, multi-species approach. He takes up marginalised plants and communities of people as subjects in his large-scale interventions, which reintroduce wildness into...
The weather was clement for the annual Auckland Art Fair (2–5 May 2019), which was again at The Cloud on Queens Wharf. This year's edition was a get-together of 41 galleries, mostly from around Auckland and across New Zealand, with 5 spaces hailing from Sydney and the rest from Cook Islands (Bergman Gallery), Hobart (Michael Bugelli Gallery),...
Do Ho Suh, Rubbing / Loving, STPI, Artist Studio 35, 41 Robertson Quay, Singapore 238236 (2017) (detail). Pastel on paper. 74 x 63 x 16.5 cm. © Do Ho Suh. Courtesy of the artist, STPI and Victoria Miro, London/Venice.
The South Korean artist Do Ho Suh, is a perfect complement to ‘Freespace’, the theme of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. His fascination with rendering the built environment appears to suggest both form and memory in his work, which straddles drawing and sculpture. Victoria Miro gallery’s exhibition in Venice is the result of a three-year residency at the STPI Creative Workshop, Singapore, in which Suh created rubbings of everyday objects and interior spaces from his personal surroundings.
Do Ho Suh (서도호) is a Korean sculptor and installation artist. After completing his BFA in painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA in sculpture at Yale University, Suh fulfilled his mandatory service to the South Korean military before returning to his artistic practice. Spatial and psychological migration is a central theme in Suh’s work, particularly as the artist divides his time between New York, London, and Seoul.
Suh’s works question the identity of the individual in an increasingly globalised society and explore how people inhabit public spaces. In his installation Some/One, Suh recalls his time spent in the South Korean military by layering the gallery floor with military dog tags. This work, among several of his others, questions the strength of the individual versus a group. His sculptures and installations defy preconceived notions of large scale works with their intricate detailings. Of particular interest is the notion of home and what constitutes the concept of home. The artist explores this through his works that use transparent fabric to create details from his parents home, and creates ghostly objects that evoke the sense of loss and memory.
Do Ho Suh’s work is held in collections worldwide including at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate Modern, London; Artsonje Center, Korea; and Mori Art Museum, Japan. His Recent exhibitions have included Specimen Series at Lehmann Maupin, Hong Kong (2013-2014), and New Works at STPI, Singapore (2015).Suh represented Korea at the 2010 Venice Biennale, the 2010 Liverpool Biennial, and the 2012 Gwangju Biennial. A retrospective of the artist’s work was held at the Seattle Art Museum and Seattle Asian Art Museum in 2002.
Made at the STPI Creative Workshop in Singapore, the new works in this exhibition are part of the artist’s ongoing Rubbing/Loving project, in which rubbings of interior spaces and everyday objects are created in a process that discloses and memorialises details of the artist’s surroundings.
Do Ho Suh has visited the STPI Creative Workshop several times a year over the past ten years. He is the first artist to be invited more than once to this internationally renowned resource for artists working with print and paper, and a long-term collaboration with the workshop has been instrumental in the development of his groundbreaking, large-scale thread drawings.
Focusing on objects, fixtures and fittings attached to the walls, the works in this exhibition attest to Suh’s close relationship with STPI and commemorate his time there. Light switches, door knobs, a telephone, a tap, a hairdryer hanging from a hook… created by lining objects with paper and rubbing the surface with coloured pastels, the works on display lend a quiet poetry to the quotidian while laying bare the processes, rational yet sensual, that enable the artist to determine and connect with his surroundings. Reconstructed in three dimensions, the completed works exist at the boundary of drawing and sculpture.
Touch and its repetition is a key aspect of Suh’s Rubbing/Loving works. Suh has often drawn parallels between architectural space and the body, and in these works the paper functions as an epidermis – a second or surrogate skin – that bears the impression of his own touch: pastel, applied with the fingertips in a gesture the artist describes as a ‘caress’.
For Suh, these rubbing works function as symbols of memory, and in them he documents the accumulation of time and preserves his experience of living and working within spaces of special significance. They encapsulate wider ideas in his art about home and belonging, malleable space and memory, and the boundaries of identity within a shared realm, referring to Suh’s fruitful time at STPI as well as that of the many international artists who have worked there. Contained within the works, too, are further ideas of connection, transition, movement and flow, not confined to but especially evocative in the pipework and other conduits he brings to light, ideas that acquire special resonance in the historic city of Venice.
Also in Venice: a new film by Do Ho Suh, commissioned by the V&A and La Biennale di Venezia, for their presentation Robin Hood Gardens: A Ruin in Reverse in the Pavilion of Applied Arts at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, 26 May – 25 November 2018.
Robin Hood Gardens: A Ruin in Reverse, centres around concrete fragments of Robin Hood Gardens that will be transported to Venice from Poplar, East London. These concrete fragments come from the internationally recognised housing estate by Alison and Peter Smithson, which is in the process of being demolished. In 2017, when destruction was imminent, the V&A salvaged a three-storey section of each façade and the original interior fittings of two flats.
Made in response to the architecture and interiors of Robin Hood Gardens before its demolition, Suh’s panoramic film, Robin Hood Gardens, Woolmore Street, London E14 0HG (2018) is both site-specific and time-specific – a document of the Smithson’s modular interiors as they have been adapted, decorated and furnished by residents, as well as a wider meditation about home, memory and displacement within a physical structure that is about to disappear. Given access to four flats, three of which were still occupied, Suh has used time-lapse photography, drone footage, 3D-scanning and photogrammetry to create a visual journey in which the camera pans vertically and horizontally through the building, moving seamlessly from one space to another. The film’s steady, contemplative pace and constant, frontal viewpoint function as a framework within which the myriad details that denote differences of taste, style, culture or circumstance from flat to flat are revealed. Its sustained motion accentuates the feeling of transition experienced by the residents and heightens a sense of imminence, of a building on the verge of demolition, less than fifty years after the architects’ utopian vision was realised.
Additionally, work by Do Ho Suh will feature in Architectural Ethnography from Tokyo: Guidebooks and Projects on Livelihood, curated by Momoyo Kaijima, the Japan Pavilion Exhibition at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.
Do-Ho Suh has a lot going on. When I meet with him he has just arrived from Korea following the opening of his most ambitious project to date – the installation of his work Home Within Home Within Home Within Home Within Home at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul. The site specific installation involved...
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