Guest Post: “Passage/s” – Victoria Miro Gallery

The talented photographer Penelope Lisi reviews Do Ho Suh’s exhibition “Passage/s” which took place at the Victoria Miro Gallery.

“Passage/s” exhibition has now moved to Bildmuseet, Umeå, Sweden. For more information visit: Bildmuseet

If you want to see more about Penelope, have a look to her wonderful Blog  penelopelisi
Instagram @penelopelisi

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©penelopelisi

Can you imagine every detail of your childhood home materialized in front of your eyes?

Do Ho Suh could. And if you stopped by Victoria Mirò you could see it yourself.

In the spacious gallery, room after room, the Passage/s of the artist’s past come to life.

The first space hosts large-scale experimental “drawings” introducing the visitor to Suh’s universe. Gelatin tissue and thread twist and bend gently on the cotton paper creating colorful familiar images. The walls are covered in doors, entrances and other architectural elements that together give shape to the skeleton of Suh’s life.

Remains of a peripatetic life journey that brought the artist from South Korea, his homeland, to the United States, to Berlin, and, finally, to London, his chosen home.

And among these visual fragments of memory, there is one I found particularly striking/evocative: Staircase.

Staircase-III

The panel shows a shiny red spiral ladder turning on itself and ending in nothingness, brusquely interrupted. The shape appears extremely human on the white wall, a contorted body reminding us of the deep connection between our physical selves and the spaces we inhabit.

This theme continues in the biggest room of the Gallery II which houses the Hub. This one-to-one scale fabric structure reproduces the shapes and places that left a mark in Suh’s existence: in this case parts of his London apartment and parts of his childhood home in South Korea.

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The vividly dyed fabric surfaces modeled and stitched together to form levels and corners, float in space like an impalpable skeleton.

The architectural features are carefully assembled to be the exact reflection of real places: every detail has been delineated in threads of bright polyester in an intricate web, delicate yet resistant. Ordinary minuscule pieces, almost invisible that would go unnoticed in everyday life. Switches, plugs and handles now glowing as protagonists of the space.

The meticulousness of the details gives the work a sense of authenticity. Yet passing through those corridors feels extremely private, as if walking into the artist’s intimacy while exploring your own. The semi-transparent walls symbolize and show a blurring of the line between private and public, between reality and imagination. And Suh’s personal space becomes something else, extracted from its context, someone else’s space, someone else’s intimate comfort zone.

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“I see life as a passageway, with no fixed beginning or destination. We tend to focus on the destination all the time and forget about the in-between spaces”, Suh said.

The installation stages an experience of constant transition, connecting spaces in between places, metaphor for an existence spent crossing confines in search of a destination, of a vague sense of belonging.

So the representation shifts from the artist’s own private journey to a more global reflection on movement between countries and cultures, in a globalised world where identity-shaping implies ongoing motion.

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Would I engage with this artist?

If you experience life as an endless transition in which identity development is defined by space, you should take a walk through Do Ho Suh’s artworks. Pass from threshold to room to space to a world in which our existence is never fixed but floating across boundaries in a constant sense of suspension.

Rating: 9/10

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Guest Post: “Passage/s” – Victoria Miro Gallery

The talented photographer Penelope Lisi reviews the ongoing Do Ho Suh’s exhibition “Passage/s” at the Victoria Miro Gallery.

Until the 18th of March

If you want to see more about Penelope, have a look to her wonderful Blog  penelopelisi
Instagram @penelopelisi

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©penelopelisi

Last week I finally visited the much-talked about Do Ho Suh’s Passage/s at Victoria Miro Gallery.

I needed to see with my own eyes the reason of the insane success of this exhibition.

I knew that the South Korean Artist has been working and reflecting on the idea of home-space for long time and I was curious to see how he materialized his thoughts into this gallery space.

So I walked in the gallery with very high expectations, with my camera ready and hungry to shoot.

The first room introduces you to Suh’s world, displaying large-scale experimental “drawings”, made of colored gelatin tissue and threads, forming the skeleton of the images appearing on cotton paper. The result is a room with walls covered by huge colorful panels representing architectural details familiar to the artist, mainly entrances and doors. Apart from one, my favorite: Staircase. 

Staircase-III

This extraordinary piece represents a shiny red spiral staircase that twists and turns, ending in nothingness, interrupted. The staircase attracted me because of its close resemblance with a contorted human body, reminding me of the close connection between the different spaces we inhabit: the home and the body. The strong feeling I had while looking at this red striking artwork made me feel very close to the artist’s mind and made me understand his purpose. This is what I think art should aim to.

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©penelopelisi

After this first great start, I continued to the second part of the exhibition. In the biggest room of the Gallery II stand the one-to-one scale Hub, London Apartment, fabric architectural structures, materialization of the shapes and places that left a mark in Suh’s life: in this case part of his London house, combined with his childhood home in South Korea and other relevant spaces throughout his life. The stunning installation stages transitory passages, connection spaces in between places, shifting from a representation of the artist’s own private experience to a more global reflection on movement and transition between countries and cultures. The semi-transparent materials which the walls of the Hubs are made of communicates an evident blurring of the line between private and public, but also between reality and imagination, almost suggesting a dream atmosphere.

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©penelopelisi

“I see life as a passageway, with no fixed beginning or destination. We tend to focus on the destination all the time and forget about the in-between spaces”, Suh said.

And maybe it’s because I feel my experience to be close to that of the artist, always passing through, almost floating, crossing confines between one culture and another in search for a destination, that I was so touched by Suh’s work. I think that the artist’s way of expressing the feeling of the “in-between”, of the passage from a place to another without engaging with the transitory space, is incredibly strong and direct.

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I strongly suggest visiting this exhibition to anyone who sees and experiences London as a transitory place, a passage between two cultures, two countries, two stages of life. Visit it to linger in a space between the real and imagined, past and present, fixed and fluid and to be totally amused.

Should I go?

So, as Penelope suggests, don’t wast time and go to visit this extraordinary South Korean artist until it is on!

Rating: 9/10
Cost: free