Do-Ho Suh at Lehmann Maupin
BY STEVEN VINCENT
As weightless as dreams and as elusive as their meaning, Do-Huh Suh's installation The Perfect Home II conjures the vulnerabilities of apartment life, where outside noise penetrates our living space, and our walls and windows betray our domestic affairs to eavesdropping neighbors. With hand-stitched nylon supported by imperceptible wires and metal poles, the South Korean-born artist re-creates in 1:1 scale his Manhattan studio apartment, adjacent hallways and staircase. Reversing his play with material evident in his 2001 piece Some/One-a garment made from stainless-steel dog tags-Suh presented a gossamer dwelling that one can literally pack into a suitcase.
As gallery light permeated its translucent walls, the installation revealed its color-coded sections-Suh's apartment is ice blue, the corridor taupey pink, the stairs greenish white-prompting viewers to admire the artist's attention to detail: light switches, plumbing fixtures, a bookcase, even the Phillips-head screws on the door hinges, all formed in slightly sagging nylon. What's missing, however, is furniture, books, tchotchkes-the stuff of daily life. The abode imparted a feeling of abstraction, as if one were standing inside a kind of Platonic ideal of a New York City apartment- the “perfection,” perhaps, suggested by Suh's doubly ironic title.
Indeed, because of its realistic yet insubstantial construction, the installation exerted a peculiar influence on one's sense of physicality. Walking through the empty corridor and room, viewers experienced a heightened sense of their own presence and “realness” in comparison to the fragility of the installation. As with Suh's sculpture Floor (1997-2000), in which visitors walked on glass sheets supported by thousands of tiny plastic figurines, Perfect Home II seduces us into a kind of physical and psychic grandiosity. At the same time, the piece's impersonal quality underscores the alienation that accompanies our hubris.