Do Ho Suh exhibits at London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE

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Do Ho Suh exhibits at London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE
Installation view. Photo by Marcus Leith, courtesy Bloomberg SPACE © Do Ho Suh.

LONDON.- London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE is presenting its latest contemporary art commission, Proposal for Sach’ŏnwang-sa (2021), by Do Ho Suh. The installation examines memory, psychic space and modes of survival.

The commission is inspired by the resonance between the Roman Temple of Mithras, on which Bloomberg SPACE is situated, and the ancient Korean Temple, Sach’ŏnwang-sa, built circa 670 AD. Installed directly above the Mithraeum, according to the North-facing aspect of the original Korean temple, Suh’s large-scale structure offers a poetic reimagining of Sach’ŏnwang-sa.

Just as the London Mithraeum explores the practices and symbols associated with the cult of Mithras, Suh’s exhibition invites audiences to consider the architecture, purpose and meaning of one of ancient Korea’s most significant, but enigmatic, archaeological sites. Marrying close analysis of Sach’ŏnwang-sa with an exploration of the means by which sanctuaries are formed and bound, Suh’s project is the result of a decade-long ambition to respond to the fragmentary history of the temple and its parallels with his fabric architecture series. The artist’s enduring interest in the transportability of space – the sense in which we carry our homes with us as a means of survival – finds new form at Bloomberg SPACE.

According to a single extant account, the temple was hurriedly erected in the ancient city of Gyeongju, South Korea to provide the site for a ritual, invoked to protect Korea from an invading superpower, the Chinese Tang Empire. The emergency structure, which is one of the earliest known sites of Korean esoteric Buddhism, is said to have been made from ‘colourful silk fabric’. A series of enigmatic stone foundations are all that remains of the subsequent permanent monastery.

Do Ho Suh – “I was immediately entranced by this fragmentary account of a temporary structure, made from colourful silks and built to protect Korea. A lot of my thoughts regarding how we relate to each other in space, as well as to the past, coalesce with this project. I’m interested in the porous, malleable quality of the fabric and how that suggests the construction of memory. I always strive to respond very carefully to the particular conditions of a site. Here, that involved considering the evidence of the historical remains of Sach’ŏnwang-sa, which are not fully understood, but also the Temple of Mithras.

Both sites speak of the universality of seeking meaning through connectivity. I was also drawn to the idea of presenting the Korean temple above the Roman temple. East and West were more closely linked in ancient times than we often think, and it’s interesting to tease out and challenge that demarcation.”

An accompanying film of the remains of Sach’ŏnwang-sa, featuring animation and diagrammatic renderings of Suh’s work, will bring the architectural context of the project to life and will be available to view on the Bloomberg Connects app, a free app that allows users to access museums, galleries and cultural spaces around the world anytime, anywhere.

Do Ho Suh (b. 1962, Seoul, Korea; lives and works in London) works across various media, creating drawings, film, and sculptural works that confront questions of home, physical space, displacement, memory, individuality, and collectivity. Suh is best known for his fabric sculptures that reconstruct to scale his former homes in Korea, Rhode Island, Berlin, New York, and now London. Suh is interested in the malleability of space in both its physical and metaphorical forms, and examines how the body relates to, inhabits, and interacts with that space. He is particularly interested in domestic space and the way the concept of home can be articulated through architecture that has a specific location, form, and history. For Suh, the spaces we inhabit also contain psychological energy, and in his work he makes visible those markers of memories, personal experiences, and a sense of security, regardless of geographic location.

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