A Home From Home
Do Ho Suh's Fabric Fittings
Do Ho Suh doesn't mind flipping a concept on its head. Sometimes literally. Inverted Monument (2022) sees a statue suspended upside down, touching the floor. "The pedestal swallows the figure," as the artist points out. To make this structure, Suh worked closely with a robotics team at the Centre for Print research in Bristol, UK, where a slave trader's statue was torn down by anti-racist protestors in 2020.
Suh's work also provides a challenge to the purpose of monuments in the West - but a quieter and more architectural one.
As well as using the same scripting language from architectural modelling programmes (which are used to scan objects and buildings), Suh's sculpture wants its viewer to think like an architect, too.
"If you approach a monument on a pedestal," he has said, "your head tilts and you instinctively look upwards. The vertical figure on top of the base is often larger than life and some distance away. It is granted authority by existing power structures, which play out architecturally." So what happens when you look down instead of up?
flipping a concept on its head
It's such a simple action - looking up or down - that we probably don't even realise we are doing it. Even so, how we react to the world around us can change the way we think about it. The artist gives the example of bronze statues from the Song Dynasty in China, who are presented kneeling on the ground - "until recently, people were invited to hit the sculptures with sticks".
Home is another concept that Suh invites us to reconsider, too. This exhibition includes a film of Robin Hood Gardens in London before the building was demolished - less than fifty years after it was completed. The rhythm of the film is contemplative, but the camera is always moving, as if to accentuate this pivotal moment of disruption and displacement experienced by the residents.
tiny details add up to a bigger picture
Suh was given access to four flats, and we see how different tastes, styles and cultures can affect different spaces. A home after all is so much more than a physical space.
In the work Jet Lag, Suh makes this clear - home is also what we carry with us. Objects from places that the artist previously lived - from coat hooks to hinges, light switches to door knobs - are brought together. While we might not stop to think about plug sockets every day, we might consider how some countries use prings and others pins, how some appliances go from having wires to becoming wireless and how it can take us a while to get used to a new situation.
Yet all these tiny details add up to a bigger picture - in Suh's work, it's an aeroplane. But in our lives, the accumulation of objects and memories can make for a situation that is either cosy or chaotic.
But being able to see everyday spaces and objects as if for the first time gives us a fresh perspective on them. Just as a pedestals can make the viewer look up, Suh makes us look again.