Do Ho Suh explores our theme of space through capturing an aspect of the term familiar to all–that is, living space–through intricate rubbings of his old New York apartment and North Korean locales. For his “Rubbing/Loving” project, he and several assistants performed the rubbings of walls, floors, and other surface areas on paper while blindfolded and with various media from graphite to conte. The papers were then arranged on wooden panels and constructed as an exact replicas of the rooms that museum-goers were free to walk through. The project’s namesake is a play on the fact that there are very little to no distinctions between the “r” and “l” or “b” and “v” consonants in the Korean language, so “rubbing” and “loving” come out sounding similar.
While the above example is of the artist’s apartment, Do Ho Suh also exhibited his contributions to the 9th Gwangju Biennale, “ROUNDTABLE” from 2012. Gwangju is located in South Korea, and the Gwangju Biennale is held in honor of a 1980 demonstration against an oppressive military regime. Although it was reported that 200 people were killed, an estimated 2,000 people is the reality, and it is this censorship that has motivated contemporary artists to hold the festival since 1995. The themes of the 2012 program were things relevant to the East Asian experience, such as isolation, migration, and “the relationship between group trauma, memory, and history”.
Do Ho Suh
Rubbing/Loving Project: Dormitory Room at Gwangju Catholic Lifelong Institute, 2012
colored pencil (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) on paper, wooden structure, video monitor and player and speaker
154.33 x 131.5 x 105.12 inches
392 x 334 x 267 cm
Commissioned by Gwangju Biennale 2012
This is one of the two projects he had displayed at his “Drawings” exhibition at both of Lehmann Maupin’s New York spaces. The other is a series of thread drawings (“experimental”, as Do Ho Suh refers) in various colors depicting organic and architectural forms. These were a result of the artist’s invitation to Singapore, a testament to his multinational exploits. Having been born in South Korea, been educated at both RISD and Yale, and beginning an artistic career in New York, Do Ho Suh has a focus in exploring his identity in the various spaces he occupies.