On two recent trips to Cincinnati, I had the opportunity to see Passage, the exhibition by Do Ho Suh, that is showing at the Contemporary Arts Center. I am really pleased that I went back for a second look. Suh’s work consists of reproductions of rooms, stairwells, appliances, sinks, tubs, and more from many of the different homes that he’s lived in over his life. They are constructed of stiff fabric built over a wire armature.
As I walked through the exhibits, I was struck with a sense of cold nostalgia. Familiar items were faithfully reconstructed in fine detail, down to the labels inside the refrigerator. What was missing was any sense of human occupation or connection. I was struck by the scale of the effort and work. The light filtering through the fabric was gorgeous and the colors added to my interest. However, I could never quite lose a feeling of loneliness, sometimes even sadness.
And maybe that was Suh’s point. During his life, he has lived all over the world and I can imagine in the process he was never able to develop a sense of home. As always, I use the feel test when I walk out of an exhibition. Did I feel something? Good or bad, it doesn’t matter. I think Suh’s work passed the test with bonus points.
Here are some images to give you more insight into his work.