Do-Ho Suh at Lehmann Maupin
By Edward Leffingwell
Do-Ho Suh plays on the resonant image of the individuals place in the vastness of the earth, recalling the visual journey from minute to macroscopic devised decades ago by Charles and Ray Eames for their film and photo project "Powers of Ten." Similarly concerned with the interrelationship of ideas and things, and undestanding that scale is a way of organizing information, Suh considers cultural and sociological issues, expressed in this project as the force of the collective made powerful by the subjugation of the individual.
At first reading, the installation Floor (1997-2000) consisted of a not-quite-uniform paving of thick glass plates raised a few inches above the gallery floor and set into a larger raised area made of wood that resembled the original floor. A few of the 40 glass sheets, each a meter square, were cut away in arcs at intersecting corners, the scoops introduced to the minimalist grid where the contiguity of plates was interrupted by the vertical elements of an existing structural column and two functional pipes. Formally. Suh seemed to offer a simple sculptural program that involved the adjustment of the work to its site. On closer examination, however, it became apparent that the transparent floor was supported from below on the palms of seemingly innumerable tiny hands, raised upward by more than 180,000 small PVC figures that stood on the floor. The figures, just over 2 inches high and cast from six different molds, were differentiated by reductive characteristics of gender and race, their legs bowed with the effort of supporting the plates raised above their heads, like Lilliputian titans drawn from the myths of politics and creation to support the earth.
In Doormat: Welcome (Green), 2000, Suh massed similar figures in glowing pink and green polyurethane as a doormat spelling out the invitation of its title, as though the duty of the individual in a culture based on social regimentation begins with happy homemaking. He covered the wall separating gallery from office with Who Am We? (2000), sheets of wallpaper figured with minute cameo portraits of young men and women which become indistinct a step away and, at another, dissolve completely. Suh reckons that such manipulations of scale can constitute a philosophical discourse, literally and figuratively engaged with the meaning and power implicit in focus and perspective.