Do -Ho Suh
Lehmann Maupin, New York
By Michaël Amy
While in Seoul in 1999, Do-Ho Suh created a full-scale replica of the house he was raised in out of translucent sheets of green silk that were sewn together and suspended from the ceiling. Seoul Home was made out of longing for the house his father had built from the remains of a house erected in the eighteenth century for the king of Korea. Suh’s father had intended to make an exact replica of the king’s house, and Do-Ho Suh decided to copy his father’s replica in another, portable material. Copying thereby became a way of proclaiming one’s identity while filling a void. The artist has now produced a replica of his personal space in New York, an interior easily accessible to him, which he makes accessible to the beholder.
His one-to-one translation of the walls, ceilings, and fixtures of his small apartment and its adjacent corridor and staircase, in to thin, see-through sheets of nylon stretched over a discrete metal armature, is at once planar, soft, and diaphanous. The artist defies our expectations by stitching together an architectural environment, upsetting the sculptural norm with extraordinary grace. The Perfect Home II (2003) is an expanding piece of sculpture that, in its tent-like structure, alludes to a nomadic way of life. As first shown in Seoul, it reproduced Suh’s apartment in singular isolation. The corridor was added for its display in Tokyo and London, and the staircase leading from the hallway up to the next floor was added for the exhibition in New York.
Significantly, the staircase, corridor, living room, and kitchen and bathroom are all constructed out of different colored nylon—light olive green, pink, dark blue, and light blue respectively. The olive green staircase merges with a field of the same color floating over the rest of the installation, signifying the floor above.
The sculptural environment rising from the floor of the gallery is designed to be wandered through. Like architecture, it governs our movements in space. However, this echo of an absent structure behaves in strange ways.
The transparent walls shimmer as we walk past them, the rooms and their fixtures are all of the same color and substance, and the whole has to be suspended in order not to collapse. This ghostly appearance is as delicate as memory itself.