Do Ho Suh’s (b. 1962) first exhibition at Victoria Miro, London, was a show-stopping example of conceptual installation, a display which, on reflection, poses interesting questions about the landscape of curation.
The colourful, fabric sculptures have been the unparalleled source of speculation for international audiences over the past few weeks, inviting populations en masse – even, or perhaps especially on its closing day – to walk through Hubs (2015-2016), an ethereal corridor of culture and sensory stimulation.
With the first, two-dimensional part of the show, located right after the entrance, the deconstructed shapes and flattened colours of thread drawings invited viewers into a playground of the heightened everyday – recognisable icons of doorways rendered as static, gelatine sheets. Perhaps viewed as a blueprint, a shadow of things to come in the Hubs installation, the white cube-hung works promised the same amount of detail. The wavering outlines of doorknobs and building numbers stood as an locations imprinted as memories, with each individual viewer assigning their idea of “home” to the bright, universal iconography.
After this room and past the terrace, audiences were asked to enter a lift to the main event – another pathway before walking through the one-way system of Hubs. Just as in the opening cotton paper works, no realistic element was left out – no matter how small – down to the standardised text on fire exit signs, door hinges, light switches and plugs, all sown into the large-scale, polyester colossus.
Touching on a myriad of emotionally charged and politically relevant themes that include identity, migration, displacement, acceleration and the journeys that we take on an individual and collective level, these delicate, netted structures were the antithesis for a world that has been in a consistent state of flux, providing a sense of linearity and visual cohesion.
Following on from Miro’s previous Wharf Road exhibitions – Alex Hartley: After You Left (19 November – 16 December) and the 2016 Summer blockbuster, Yayoi Kusama’s My Eternal Soul paintings (25 May – 30 July) – Suh’s audiences were unprecedented and, perhaps, unforeseen. But, as the rise of the “Instagrammable” installation increasingly contributes to an exhibition’s popularity, Suh has, through a combination of accessible sculpture and digital exposure, received the recognition that he deserves.
Of course, the role of the curator considers the importance of the online critic, and high-profile shows like Passage/s are undeniably the careful balance of algorithm, curatorial knowledge and industry insight into the role of the globalised, digitalised and ever-responsive viewer. Whilst a widespread circulation of images from the gallery can be found at the touch of a button, the continuous, unrelenting flow of audiences is an indication that Suh is communicating beyond visual appeal, and is ultimately reaching deep into the transformative nature of contemporary art.
Do Ho Suh: Passage/s ran from 1 February to 18 March. Find out more: www.victoria-miro.com
1. Installation view of Do Ho Duh’s Passage/s. Courtesy of Victoria Miro.