installation art

Do Ho Suh | Lehmann Maupin Gallery

by Liz on October 30, 2011

in Art & Design

Many Americans think of Koreans in the United States as diligent and capable newcomers who adjust quickly to their host country. Different, yes, but in a nation of differences and diversity, Koreans are just another stripe of color in an ever trendy mosaic. Do they have reservations about the new culture they must adapt to? Are they experiencing difficulties? No one knows, because no one ever bothers to ask them. No one, except for perhaps Korean artist Do Ho Suh, who resurfaced to transform elements of the autobiographical into both the artistic and the architectural at Lehmann Maupin Gallery.

As you can see from the photograph above, Suh created replicas of two buildings that have become fused thanks to a collison of two worlds, which took place when the artist first arrived in the United States in 1991 to attend the Rhode Island School of Design. The prewar brownstone replica represents the home he adopted in Providence, Rhode Island, and the hanok on the right depicts his childhood home in Korea with painstaking accuracy. According to the art narrative, his Korean home was lifted up by a tornado, transporting Suh to a strange but soon-to-be-familiar place called America. And the results are a vision to behold.

Details of hanok in Fallen Star 1/5, 2008-2011

Floor by floor of Fallen Star 1/5, 2008-2011

The tornado-driven crash landing has devastated the interior of the brownstone across all immediately adjacent floors. The damage is severe, even irreparable, but also void of catastrophic emotion. The rooms appear to be inhabited, and yet there are no people. All we have is silence, but a silence so indifferent it’s practically an ode to the ones who know that when a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, it really does not make a sound.

Suh is a remarkable artist whose intimate knowledge of cultural displacement has in many ways inspired my desire to become a better interpreter of transnational Asian culture and experience. Suh’s collision is a serious crisis, but I know all too well the greater crisis is our defiant disregard for our feelings of discontinuity and change. It’s a story that’s defined entire swathes of people but remain suppressed and unverbalized, until someone like Suh takes a stand and says, “You. This is you.” The fact that Suh is Korean and has intimate knowledge of Korean architecture made this exhibit feel all the more personal.

As for his art, I’ll let the visual outcome speak for itself.

Details of a kitchen

The attention to detail, such as in this bedroom, was simply mind-boggling.

Rear window

Visitors standing by Fallen Star 1/5, 2008-2011. Certainly gives you a sense of scale!

The parachute attached to Suh's childhood home. Definitely has echoes of his previous works.


Sarah Sze Solo Exhibition

by Liz on September 19, 2010

in Art & Design

Gallery-goers rendered speechless by Sarah Sze's installation at Tanya Bonakdar gallery

Chinese-American Sarah Sze is a site-specific installation artist who arranges everyday objects in unexpected ways. She guides the viewer to re-examine the mundane paraphernalia that surrounds and engulfs our personal space. Q-tips, toothpicks, plastic containers, electrical wires, no object is too common for Sze to upcycle into one of her critically acclaimed works of art.

My favorite part of visiting Sze’s works at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery was watching viewer reactions to her pervasive installations. Some seemed pleasantly surprised, others remained seriously baffled. That’s probably because her pieces often trailed into a larger structure, only to retreat indefinitely into the blank canvas of the gallery. No beginning, no end. So many grey areas, even I was scolded at one point for stepping on her art: a few dead leaves outside the perimeter of her installation. Yes, art is everywhere, Sze ‘s arrangments proclaimed. We just have to look for it.

Dead bonsai. Fan blows. Fall is almost here.


Another vantage point of the untitled work on the ground floor.


Portable Planetarium. Not exactly portable, but very cool nonetheless.


Details of Portable Planetarium.


Details of Portable Planetarium. Also my first encounter with an overhead projector in over 15 years.


Either a bird house with a fire escape or a feature for Dwell magazine.

Sarah Sze Solo Exhibition is on view at the Tanya Bonakdar gallery from September 16 to October 23. It’s definitely worth a look.