BY GÜLAY YAŞAYANLAR
Do Ho Suh’s work; an attempt to love, protect and collect a series of private, location-based confessions; is a refurbishment of phantom surfaces in a different, novel structure of modern time. Especially on these surfaces that reveal the authority of memory and house the privacy of the home, Suh ironically faces himself on a landscape of poetic realism and personal history.Perhaps for this reason, the Rubbing/Loving Project stands out as an allegorical challenge on paper surface – one that hosts deep-settled memories, and gains new meaning with each new touch.
Do Ho Suh’s oeuvre, forged with a sense of spirituality particular to migrant identities; questions issues of belonging, alienation and cultural change through the architectural connections of the domestic form.[i] Suh’s 2016 work, the Rubbing/Loving Project touches upon the same sense of time and place, but is instead executed in a different, outstanding technique: A three-floor house in New York City, which the artist inhabited for a long time and had to vacate after the death of its owners – has been transformed into a striking locale of memory-based analysis.[ii]
The project was the result of a laborious creative experience that stretched over four years, and extended across worn-down sheets of paper that cover the entirety of the building’s interiors. The project, part of a complicated, hybrid cultural milieu, aims to recall and record the memory of the evicted building. The house, which has almost become a holy site for Suh, has been taken under protection and re-interpreted with a new spiritual context with the artist’s symbolic act of interpretation. The artist traces tangible memories in the space, and manifests a phantasmagoric language by recording every leak of emotional intensity. In doing so, Suh probably aims to find the color that best symbolizes the time he spent in the house; and in its aura, attain the depth of memories.
a passionate, tactile act of purification
The Rubbing/Loving Project is a traumatic performance that touches every part of its host structure’s surface, and keeps its memories alive in its emptiness. Its fiction gains focus with emotional conflict and is shaped by the artist’s mental experience. By enlivening details of the house with colorful pencil rubbings, the artist reveals the house’s textures and releases pent up details about the house’s common memory. Every loving stroke and act of frottage emphasizes a deep sense of belonging to the house, capturing sentiments in each line, stain and hint of color.
The act of covering the house’s interiors with paper here is doubtlessly an effort to protect the structure’s sense of symbolic privacy from potential threats. For this reason, the traces transferred from walls to the paper transform into images that depict Suh’s intense relationship and his dramatic reunification with, and his final farewell to this special building.
Especially the blue graphite markings and stripes in the building’s entrance floor contain a wealth of details that reflect this poignant spiritual mood. These tactile, rubbed-over surfaces can be considered individually as works that collect memories and express a profound sense of love. Thus, the Rubbing/Loving Project transforms into a stage that silently expresses a fictional, or location-based narrative of love and dedication.
For Suh, this building – a foundry of memories and location-specific secrets – is now the site of a profound ritual of purification that hosts spiritual catharsis through layers of time and memory.
a calming anarchy of memory
The techniques of frottage and rubbing that So Ho Suh persistently employs, create a location-based memory space that records experiences and supra-conscious hints of memories spilling over from the building’s past days. In this respect, the project can be likened to a palimpsest off hidden, multi-layered past times; a calming anarchy of memory. It is an experience of feeling and remembrance specific to the site, interwoven with discussions of identity and belonging. Suh’s emotional desire to express this with rhythmic touches upon the building and its surfaces is indeed impressive – and commendable.
As a result, this creative ritual of touching and adoration based on traces of the structure’s interior renders numerous emotional conflicts of lived experience visible. For example, negative dreams connected to unsettling experiences in the void remind the viewer that this project is a realistic locale of reflection and image-based remembrance. It is indeed a challenge to rub down and capture the aura of an entire interior without damaging anything, or bypassing any delicate texture. For this reason, it is often impossible to trace down and remember many forgotten details. But some details might still be captured in times of cathartic unification at times when dreams invade the location. Thus, the creative process emerges as a fantastic project of emotional experience, brought about by imaginary touches and strokes made during a pursuit of emotional traces.
the hidden order of mental experiences
Do Ho Suh’s work; an attempt to love, protect and collect a series of private, location-based confessions; is a refurbishment of phantom surfaces in a different, novel structure of modern time. Especially on these surfaces that reveal the authority of memory and house the privacy of the home, Suh ironically faces himself on a landscape of poetic realism and personal history.
Perhaps for this reason, the Rubbing/Loving Project stands out as an allegorical challenge on paper surface – one that hosts deep-settled memories, and gains new meaning with each new touch. (Translated by C.M. Kösemen)
Gülay Yaşayanlar, Copyright © 2022 / All Rights Reserved.
[i] Do Ho Suh (b. 1962, Seoul, Korea; lives and works in London, United Kingdom) works across various media, creating drawings, film, and sculptural works that confront questions of home, physical space, displacement, memory, individuality, and collectivity. Suh is best known for his fabric sculptures that reconstruct to scale his former homes in Korea, Rhode Island, Berlin, London, and New York. Suh is interested in the malleability of space in both its physical and metaphorical forms, and examines how the body relates to, inhabits, and interacts with that space. He is particularly interested in domestic space and the way the concept of home can be articulated through architecture that has a specific location, form, and history. For Suh, the spaces we inhabit also contain psychological energy, and in his work he makes visible those markers of memories, personal experiences, and a sense of security, regardless of geographic location. [https://www.lehmannmaupin.com/artists/do-ho-suh/biography]
[ii] Between 2012 and 2016, Do Ho Suh carried out a comprehensive study called the Rubbing/Loving Project in the three-storey building in New York, where he lived for nearly twenty years, used the ground floor as a home and workshop, and was sold and evacuated due to the death of the owners. Covering all interior surfaces of the building with adhesive paper; The artist, who fixes the traces and textures he has taken with colored graphite pencils by rubbing and rubbing, thus wants to touch, remember, love and feel the passing time.
The project is presented through the following information: Do Ho Suh, Rubbing/Loving Project: Unit 2, 348 West 22nd Street, Apartment A, New York, NY 10011, USA, 2014.