With the lightest of touches, artist Do Ho Suh can transform the architectural into a symbol of the transient – and temporal – nature of life. By Emily Spicer
Do Ho Suh’s work swings between the gently poetic and the boldly ambitious. In 2012, he affixed a 30-tonne house to the roof of the engineering school at the University of California, San Diego. Half the structure hung in mid-air at a haphazard angle, as though it had crash-landed from the sky in a scenario straight out of the Wizard of Oz. The Rubbing/Loving Project was another huge undertaking, completed only recently after three years of painstaking work. Suh lined the interior of his New York apartment with thin sheets of paper and went to work with coloured pastels, rubbing every inch in a labour of love. In doing so, he recorded every knock and scratch on every surface, the human markers of the dwelling’s life.
The overriding theme in Suh’s work is home and the spaces we pass through as we look for somewhere to settle, be it permanently or temporarily. Born in South Korea in 1962, Suh has led a relatively peripatetic life, moving from east to west, between cultures, languages and shifting architectural environments. His most recent work could be read as an effort to grab at, and preserve, certain fleeting aspects of this journey, to make something stick. With this exhibition, he builds, quite literally, on his experience of passing through environments using that most common marker of transition, the doorway.
Image: Installation view, Do Ho Suh: Passage/s, 1 February–18 March 2017