Artist's Reflection on Personal, Interpersonal Space

Korea Times (Seoul, Korea), December 13, 2000 | Go to article overview

Artist's Reflection on Personal, Interpersonal Space


In today's world of globalization, more and more people travel and live overseas, disregarding former boundaries and limitations on time and space.

With global migration and nomadism, the established notion of home is shifting towards new interpretations.

Twelve artists from seven countries in Asia and Europe are investigating such new concepts of home in a joint exhibition, ``My Home is Yours, Your Home is Mine,'' which will run until Jan. 28 next year at the Rodin Gallery, downtown Seoul. One artist participating in this exhibition is Korean installation artist Suh Do-ho.

``Contemporary people live a nomadic life,'' said Suh. ``But everyone has his or her own origin, which is very important. So the space of home can be repeated wherever you go. My exhibit is not just about a person in America longing for his hometown in Korea, but how that person actively tries to solve homesickness. If I could make a portable home, I could recreate my home anywhere.''

The 38-year-old artist presents a life-sized cloth version of his current home in New York to the Korean audience. Made of pale blue nylon, this exhibit shows the artist's own private space, opened to the public to come in and look around.

``What I am interested in is `personal space,''' he said. ``People carry an invisible, abstract space around with them, such as memories. I try to produce that in a physical form in my work. This exhibit originated from the thought of how I could move the space of my New York apartment to Korea, to show my feelings of living in a foreign country. Each culture has different concepts of space -- this is what my work is based on.''

This exhibit is similar to his previous work displayed during a recent exhibition in Los Angeles, titled ``Seoul Home/L.A. Home,'' which was a cloth replica of a traditional Korean house.

``My previous work originated from the thought of how I could recreate in a foreign country the place filled with my past memories, where I had been the most comfortable and at ease. Pondering over this dilemma, I decided to use cloth as the material, so that I could always fold it later and take it wherever I go,'' said Suh. ``I came to lay emphasis on portable and transportable space.''

In both exhibitions, the artist's home has been moved from its original location over borders, seemingly a reflection of Suh's own nomadic life.

``This exhibit isn't simply about moving something from one place to another. I brought my current foreign home to my origin, thereby complicating the concept of home and allowing viewers to think twice about personal space and home.''

At the moment, the house is unfurnished, but the artist plans to continue adding pieces of furniture one by one.

``My work is not yet complete,'' he said. ``I will furnish the apartment during the exhibition, such as the kitchen and the bathroom. When the exhibition goes to Japan, I will add a long corridor as well. So my work is continually being repeated and translated anew.''

This idea of continuous renovations was influenced by Jerome Sans, a curator at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, who worked in collaboration with curators Hou Hanru from China and Ahn So-yeon from Korea.

``Jerome Sans is very flexible,'' said Suh. ``He wants an organic relation between curator and artist and seems to like it when something unexpected turns up. Through his influence, I also came to have a more flexible attitude.

``When I first was included in the exhibition, I thought, `Will I fit in?' The other artists here are very interested in the interaction between the viewer and artist, having events and performances, but I am not like that.

To me, the process of making a piece of artwork is very important. Other artists improvise sometimes, but as for me, my work is painstakingly tight, almost suffocating at times.

``However, I decided to adjust myself to conform with the initial intention of the exhibition and to look at the conceptual aspect from a different angle. …

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