Do Ho Suh

Victoria Miro, London, UK

Do Ho Suh’s ‘Passage/s’ is a timely look at what it means to feel at home in a globalized world. The exhibition’s three sections are reached by making your own patient passage up steep staircases and through the garden at Victoria Miro’s Wharf Road space. In each, different media – thread drawings, photographic blueprints, polyester fabric installations and video installations – have been used to reproduce mundane objects and experiences that form the backdrop to modern life. These include replica doors and entranceways, lightbulbs, plugs and toilet seats from the many places Suh has called home (London, New York, Berlin, Providence and his hometown of Seoul). Each is named after its address of origin, listed like a serial number.

Do Ho Suh, 'Passage/s', 2017, exhibition view, Victoria Miro, London. Courtesy: the Artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Victoria Miro, London; photograph: Thierry Bal © Do Ho Suh

Do Ho Suh, 'Passage/s', 2017, exhibition view, Victoria Miro, London. Courtesy: the Artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Victoria Miro, London; photograph: Thierry Bal © Do Ho Suh

Do Ho Suh, 'Passage/s', 2017, exhibition view, Victoria Miro, London. Courtesy: the artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Victoria Miro, London; photograph: Thierry Bal © Do Ho Suh 

 

Suh’s nine ‘Hubs’ (2015–16), on the upper floor of Gallery II, are one-to-one reproductions of these apartments’ transient spaces: doors and passages between rooms. Made of delicately stitched-together pieces of translucent coloured polyester, supported by sturdy stainless steel pipes, they lead onto one another, stretching across the space like one long corridor of contradictions. On the one hand, they look like a long piece of playground equipment, but even as you scuttle between them, you are never fully immersed in play. On the other, these interiors, though exquisitely detailed, have lost their practical function – door hinges are unbending, power sockets are powerless.

The ‘Hubs’ question what it means to belong somewhere. A ‘home’ must have a physical structure (doorframes, handles, walls), but our experience of belonging has an emotional structure, too. The ‘Hubs’ allow us to position ourselves on the threshold between ‘private’ and ‘public’ life or between ‘insider’ and ‘outsider’ status. These delicate structures capture the loneliness of the transient ‘global citizen’ and of the uprooted immigrant, while simultaneously evoking the comfort of familiar settings.

Do Ho Suh, 'Passage/s', 2017, exhibition view, Victoria Miro, London. Courtesy: the Artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Victoria Miro, London; photograph: Thierry Bal © Do Ho Suh

Do Ho Suh, 'Passage/s', 2017, exhibition view, Victoria Miro, London. Courtesy: the Artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Victoria Miro, London; photograph: Thierry Bal © Do Ho Suh

Do Ho Suh, 'Passage/s', 2017, exhibition view, Victoria Miro, London. Courtesy: the artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Victoria Miro, London; photograph: Thierry Bal © Do Ho Suh

Once on this threshold, we can be tourists in Suh’s life. Exit Series (2016) parodies the readymade by dextrously reproducing plug-sockets, entry buzzers and even a gas inspection certificate in stainless steel wire, making us look anew at things we might not usually notice. The thread drawings on the lower floor of the gallery are like cryosections of the ‘Hubs’. Made of sewn gelatin tissue dissolved in water, these two-dimensional cross sections of congealed thread and paper are like fossilized memories of entranceways and a New York staircase.

The show also contains three video works, of which the massive three-channel Passage/s: The Pram Project (2015–16) is the most touching. On another screen, My Home/s (2014–16) pans vertically and horizontally between rooms of fastidiously arranged things (computers, office and kitchen equipment, a recurring statuette of the Virgin Mary) as if they were a part of one apartment block while Passages (2015–16) takes us on a journey down an infinite corridor.

Do Ho Suh, Passage/s: The Pram Project, 2015-16, installation view, Victoria Miro Gallery, London. Courtesy: the Artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Victoria Miro, London; photograph: Thierry Bal © Do Ho Suh

Do Ho Suh, Passage/s: The Pram Project, 2015-16, installation view, Victoria Miro Gallery, London. Courtesy: the Artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Victoria Miro, London; photograph: Thierry Bal © Do Ho Suh

Do Ho Suh, Passage/s: The Pram Project, 2015-16, installation view, Victoria Miro Gallery, London. Courtesy: the artist, Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong, and Victoria Miro, London; photograph: Thierry Bal © Do Ho Suh

The Pram Project is a portrait of the artist as a middle-aged father of two. A charming view of the streets of Islington and Seoul filmed on three GoPro cameras from the perspective of his daughters’ pram, the piece captures the sounds of the children’s adorable babbling and singing and Suh’s gentle responses.

Suh’s interest in textures (the frailty of the fabric, the delicate stitching) might seem like an apolitical celebration of surfaces, but ‘Passage/s’ is a bracing riposte to the idea that the ‘rootless cosmopolitan’ is the enemy of the people. It celebrates change, travel and the free-play of cultures and languages, questioning not merely what it means to have roots, but what it means to be able to grow new ones.

Most Read

Q. What is art for? A. To tell us where we are.
The work of filmmaker James N. Kienitz Wilkins on the occasion of his inclusion in the 2017 Whitney Biennial film...
Trisha Brown has died, aged 80; two new appointments at London’s ICA; controversy at the Whitney
A round-up of the best shows to see in the city ahead of this week’s Art Basel Hong Kong
How should the artistic community respond when an art space, explicitly or implicitly, associates itself with right-...
Charlie Fox on a new translation of Hervé Guibert's chronicle of love, lust and drug-addled longing
Three highlights from the New York festival promoting emerging filmmakers
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA
A report and the highlights from a show themed around fluidity, flux, botany and the subterranean
From growing protests over the gentrification of Boyle Heights to Schimmel leaving Hauser & Wirth, the latest from...
kurimanzutto, Mexico City, Mexico
Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland
The body is a troubled thing ...
Sir Howard Hodgkin dies aged 84; finalists for Berlin’s Preis der Nationalgalerie 2017 announced

From the Women's Strike to a march that cancels itself out: what to read this weekend
The most interesting works in the IFFR’s Short Film section all grappled with questions of truth, honesty and...
With the reissue of their eponymous debut album, revisiting the career of legendary Berlin art project / punk band Die...
Galeria Jaqueline Martins, São Paulo, Brazil 

Tramway, Glasgow, UK
A work by self-taught artist Martín Ramírez
Munich’s Haus der Kunst embroiled in Scientology scandal; Martín Ramírez to inaugurate the new ICA LA
If politics today obsesses over the policing of borders, art in France is enacting multiple crossings
A new video installation from Richard Mosse investigates the refugee crisis
Gustav Metzger has died aged 90; director of the Met resigns
What draws us to certain stories, and why do we retell them? 
It’s time that the extraordinary life and work of Anya Berger was acknowledged

Latest Magazines

frieze magazine

Nov - Dec 2016

frieze magazine

Jan - Feb 2017

frieze magazine

March 2017