Do Ho Suh’s Specimen: Sculptures of toilets & bathtubs

Last updated:

Do Ho Suh - Toilet, 2013, polyester fabric
Do Ho Suh – Toilet, 2013, polyester fabric, 34 x 150.1 x 76.5 cm (13.4 x 59.1 x 30.1 inches), from Specimen Series: 348 west 22nd street, apt. New York, NY 10011, USA

Published: June 22, 2019

Last updated:

Introduction

Korean artist Do Ho Suh’s Specimen series draws a lot from his personal experiences as an immigrant from his native country. Do arrived in America in 1991 to study art at the Rhode Island School of Design. His experiences at the school led him to measure spaces as a way of creating and establishing a relationship with his environment. As he progressed in his career, Do developed the idea to take the measurements he had taken from various spaces where he used the measurements to replicate a series of specimens such as chairs, fridges, and ovens that he previously owned.

Why did he create this series?

Specimen demonstrated Do’s constructions of the spaces in his life and the elements that were held within the spaces, which he executed through various mediums such as resin, styrofoam, and fabric. In general, Do tried to use his specimens to address the emotions that people tie to spaces. Through the specimens, Do also exposed his own feelings of displacement, which were characterized by references to his home in an overt or covert way.

Analysis

Do Ho Suh, in his series of sculptural art pieces, continues his investigation of the themes adjoining cultural displacement and the existence of different cultural identities. Do explores how our identities help to shape how we perceive and respond to our surroundings, as well as how we manage to construct memories from the spaces that we have lived in or experienced previously.

Do was interested in exposing people’s connection to their physical spaces. The connections are physical, intangible as well as symbolic and psychological. When a person leaves a comfortable environment such as the house they grew up in, the experience is often unsettling because it causes people to feel like they do not fit in anywhere.

Why is this work relevant now?

As such, his sculptures are intended to evoke emotions of distant recollections of the spaces we have known or experienced in the past. At a time where immigration is a soft issue, Do’s reflections of space and memory are particularly applicable at this time.

How the sculptures were created

At the main gallery, Do recreated a full-scale replica of his studio apartment in New York using colored filmy and almost transparent fabric. Not only were the sculptures in the series full of intimate detail, but they were also dreamy owing to the translucence. The transparent fabric that he used was draped over stainless steel armature before being stitched to perfection.

Conclusion

As people went through the exhibition, they were forced to examine what it feels like to live in a space that is no longer familiar. They were also forced to examine the feelings that they would undergo once a familiar space ceases to be home. Even more pointedly, the audience was forced to examine the feelings and the emotions they would have if they had no home to think of at all.

Fabric works

Basin, 2015

Do Ho Suh – Basin, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA, 2015, polyester fabric, stainless steel wire
Do Ho Suh – Basin, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA, 2015, polyester fabric, stainless steel wire

Do Ho Suh - Basin, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA, 2015
Do Ho Suh – Basin, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA, 2015, polyester fabric, stainless steel wire, and glass display case with LED lighting, 117 x 81 x 72 cm / 46.06 x 31.89 x 27.95 inches (vitrine)

Bathtub, 2013

Do Ho Suh - Bathtub, 2013, polyester fabric
Do Ho Suh – Bathtub, 2013, polyester fabric, 34 x 150.1 x 76.5 cm (13.4 x 59.1 x 30.1 inches), from Specimen Series: 348 west 22nd street, apt. New York, NY 10011, USA

Do Ho Suh - Bathtub, 2013, polyester fabric, stainless steel wire, display case, LED lighting, Brian Fitzsimmons
Do Ho Suh – Bathtub, 2013, polyester fabric, stainless steel wire, display case, LED lighting, 34 x 150.1 x 76.5 cm (13.4 x 59.1 x 30.1 inches), from Specimen Series: 348 west 22nd street, apt. New York, NY 10011, USA
Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons

Medicine Cabinet, 2013

Do Ho Suh - Medicine Cabinet, 2013, polyester fabric
Do Ho Suh – Medicine Cabinet, 2013, polyester fabric, 110.2 x 106.7 x 24.1 cm (43.4 x 42 x 9.5 inches)

Radiator, 2013

Do Ho Suh - Radiator, 2013 polyester fabric
Do Ho Suh – Radiator, 2013, polyester fabric, 93.5 x 74.7 x 18.3 cm (36.8 x 29.4 x 7.2 inches)

Do Ho Suh - Radiator, 2013, Specimen Series, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA, 2013. Polyester fabric, stainless steel wire, display case with LED lighting
Do Ho Suh – Radiator, 2013, polyester fabric, stainless steel wire, display case, LED lighting, 93.5 x 74.7 x 18.3 cm (36.8 x 29.4 x 7.2 inches)
Photo: Brian Fitzsimmons

Refrigerator, 2013

Do Ho Suh - Refrigerator, 2013, polyester fabric
Do Ho Suh – Refrigerator, 2013, polyester fabric, 166.9 x 72.6 x 73.9 cm (65.7 x 28.6 x 29.1 inches)

Do Ho Suh - Refrigerator, 2013, Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati
Do Ho Suh – Refrigerator, 2013, polyester fabric, stainless steel wire, display case, LED lighting, 166.9 x 72.6 x 73.9 cm (65.7 x 28.6 x 29.1 inches), Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati

Stove, 2013

Do Ho Suh - Stove, 2013 polyester fabric
Do Ho Suh – Stove, 2013, polyester fabric, 106.2 x 52.1 x 65.3 cm (41.8 x 20.5 x 25.7 inches)

Do Ho Suh - Stove, 2013 polyester fabric
Do Ho Suh – Stove, 2013, polyester fabric, stainless steel wire, display case, LED lighting, 106.2 x 52.1 x 65.3 cm (41.8 x 20.5 x 25.7 inches), MOCA Cleveland

Do Ho Suh - Stove, 2013 polyester fabric, Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center
Do Ho Suh – Stove, 2013, polyester fabric, stainless steel wire, display case, LED lighting, 106.2 x 52.1 x 65.3 cm (41.8 x 20.5 x 25.7 inches), Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati

Toilet, 2013

Do Ho Suh – Toilet, 2013, polyester fabric, stainless steel wire, display case, LED lighting, 34 x 150.1 x 76.5 cm (13.4 x 59.1 x 30.1 inches)
Do Ho Suh – Toilet, 2013, polyester fabric, stainless steel wire, display case, LED lighting, 34 x 150.1 x 76.5 cm (13.4 x 59.1 x 30.1 inches), from Specimen Series: 348 west 22nd street, apt. New York, NY 10011, USA

Exhibition photos: Frist Art Museum

Do Ho Suh - Specimens, Oct. 12, 2018 - Jan. 6, 2019, Installation view, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, photo John Schweikert
Do Ho Suh – Specimens, Oct. 12, 2018 – Jan. 6, 2019, installation view, Frist Art Museum, Nashville
Photo: John Schweikert

Do Ho Suh - Specimens, Oct. 12, 2018 - Jan. 6, 2019, Installation view, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, photo John Schweikert
Do Ho Suh – Specimens, Oct. 12, 2018 – Jan. 6, 2019, installation view, Frist Art Museum, Nashville
Photo: John Schweikert

Do Ho Suh - Specimens, Oct. 12, 2018 - Jan. 6, 2019, Installation view, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, photo John Schweikert
Do Ho Suh – Specimens, Oct. 12, 2018 – Jan. 6, 2019, installation view, Frist Art Museum, Nashville
Photo: John Schweikert

Do Ho Suh - Specimens, Oct. 12, 2018 - Jan. 6, 2019, Installation view, Frist Art Museum, Nashville, photo John Schweikert
Do Ho Suh – Specimens, Oct. 12, 2018 – Jan. 6, 2019, installation view, Frist Art Museum, Nashville
Photo: John Schweikert

All photos: Taegsu Jeon & Do Ho Suh/lehmannmaupin.com unless otherwise noted.

Discover more ..
Support us Want to support us? Want to see less ads? Be part of our fully independent operation and support us with a donation. We are a fully independent operation. One hundred percent of our editorial content is specifically commissioned. Contributions can be made with PayPal or by credit card.

Support us

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*


Stay in touch

We would love to keep the conversation going.

Please join us on Pinterest, YouTube or Instagram.

Want inspiration in your inbox?