Born in Seoul, Korea, studying in America, and now based in New York and London, Do Ho Suh (b. 1962) travels the globe pursuing his practice, and as a man on the move, repeatedly probes the never-ending questions of where he comes from, and what he is.The dynamism of the works of Suh, products of meticulous technique and countless hours of handwork, bears handcraft elements from Suh’s native Korea, and the strength arising out of group solidarity that could be described as a mark of the Asian character. Since the mid-1990s, Suh has built full-scale “house” motifs using semitransparent cloth to create, among other dwellings, the traditional homes of his birthplace, and his apartment in the United States, in a series of stunning soft sculptures attracting considerable comment. The “houses” in which we spend so many vital hours of our lives are places that nurture our identities, and by recreating their spaces and structures, Suh questions where public and private, faraway birthplace and current abode, land of our memories and real places meet, and the lines between them.
Individuals grounded in “houses” form groups that make up societies. Suh’s works take items such as uniforms and army dogtags that identify individuals as part of a specific group, and while challenging the authorities that confine individuals within particular frameworks, develops these items into installations that are metaphors for the enormous power generated when the small, individual power of nameless people is combined. Turning his gaze on the relationships between the identities of individuals and groups, Suh discerns in the individual collective things such as history, culture, society and the state.
As an Asian on the move, negotiating different cultures while reflecting on his origins, Suh nurtures and acquires new identities. Do Ho Suh: in between introduces the attempts of the artist in a global era in which economies and societies would come to a halt without the intersection of people, objects and information to explore the self and make the world a smaller place, while negotiating cultures of different origins and moving to and fro between tradition and innovation, individual and group.
Previous presentations of Suh’s works in Japan have focused primarily on his fabric pieces, but influenced by aspects of Japanese subculture such as figurines, he has also turned out various sculptural pieces in different materials. This solo exhibition is the first in Japan to offer a true overview of Suh’s career to date, from early efforts to latest pieces. Suh’s architectural works manifest a site- specific composition that appears to be in dialog with the surrounding museum architecture, making this a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for visitors too.