In 1993 Do Ho Suh left his native South Korea for America, traveling first to Providence, then New Haven, then New York, before moving on again to London. Suh tells a story of being unable to sleep in his noisy New York apartment, and in this nocturnal moment remembering a familiar Korean expression: ‘You walk the house.’
Somewhere between instruction and description, the expression denotes the activity of disassembling your home piece by piece and taking it with you to reassemble at a different location. And although origin stories like this are always changing to align with the present, always being reassembled as it were, much of Suh’s practice quietly tugs at the displaced memories of spaces once lived; intimate evocations that appear as though they have snuck out from a dream and into material form. ‘I want to carry my house, my home, with me all the time like a snail,’ the artist said in 2013 to ‘ArtAsiaPacific’ magazine.
Hence ‘Seoul Home/L.A. Home/New York Home/Baltimore Home/London Home/Seattle Home …’ (1999, pictured above), a transportable replica of his family home in Seoul. Woven in silk and suspended from the ceiling, the house floats, ghost-like, above one’s head. The sculpture’s expanding title incorporates each new location in which it is exhibited, and by extension suggests that the value of memory is not because it is fixed or solid but because it is adaptable and mobile.