Inside Do Ho Suh’s colourful Passage/s

With one gallery in the heart of prestigious Mayfair, and the other nestled in the streets behind a busy City Road, Victoria Miro doesn’t immediately spring to mind as a destination for families. Yet in recent years it’s played to its strengths, drawing in a broader variety of visitors through its un-intimidating size and more accessible work, such has last year’s popular exhibition by purveyor of pumpkins, Yayoi Kusama.

Now, in a new exhibition by local resident and South Korean artist, Do Ho Suh, Victoria Miro continues in the same vein, through a show alive with themes of home, identity and family, presented in a way that is bold, colourful and playful, yet beautiful and intricate.

Passage/s is focussed on replicating the structures and ideas of home that have formed an important part of the artist’s life, from here in the UK, to his native Seoul, as well as other residencies in Berlin, New York and Rhode Island. Throwing light on the often hurried or forgotten places that fill a journey to the point of destination, Do Ho Suh encourages us to savour these important moments or spaces in-between, and enjoy them as a statement of the here and now. This all rang true for me as an incessantly busy, working mum.

Starting in the upper floor of Gallery I, you can get a good introduction to the detail behind Do Ho Suh’s incredible work. Created from stitching translucent, white polyester fabric, the Exit Series, 2016 casts a ghostly appearance of everyday fixtures and fittings, aspects that were joyfully identified by my young companion. Every light bulb, light switch and door knob is reminiscent of his stint in New York, and an homage to his (now departed) landlord of twenty years.  This section also provides a taster of his newer techniques –  using gelatin tissue to compress his structures into two-dimensional ‘drawings’, and onto handmade paper. More of this can be seen in kaleidoscope colour, and on a much greater scale, back down on the ground floor.

Also accompanying the works upstairs, is a large-scale video installation The Pram Project, 2015 which is definitely worth a watch. Don’t hang by the door like an apologetic wall flower! Get yourselves right into the middle of the space and you’ll be treated to the charming outputs of a series of journeys which were filmed by the artist’s GoPro camera, attached to his daughter’s pushchair. My little one absolutely loved the strolling sing-songs and it felt special to listen-in on the intimate chatter of a father and his daughters (in English and Korean), as they stroll through a range of localities.

The centrepiece of the exhibition is most definitely the Hubs, found through the rear garden and up the spectacular staircase to Gallery II. Having produced his original Hub, London Apartment for a smaller show in 2015, this hub is now joined by eight other structures to create an incredible walk-through experience, occupying the 25-metre-long gallery.

You’ll need to ditch any bags and buggies at this point to avoid making contact with the sides of the structure, but having done so you are free to carve your own path, or (as I did) let the little feet lead the way to a favourite hub. From the breeze blocks of Hub-1 Islington’s Union Wharf, to the ornamental shutters of a Seoul apartment, the experience is both magical and memorable. Without having to rush through, we turned around to enjoy it all over again, having realised that Do Ho Suh had cleverly succeeded in making the destination nowhere near as exciting as the journey.

Do Ho Suh Passage/s is at Victoria Miro until 18th March 2017
16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW
Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am to 6.00pm, Monday: By appointment only
Closed Sundays, bank holiday weekends and public holidays
Admission Free

Nearby: You’re only a 10-15 minute walk in either direction from two separate branches of The Breakfast Club. Make the journey and you’ll be rewarded with the best pancakes, and the yummiest peanut butter milkshake that you’ll ever have tasted! (No bookings taken, be prepared to queue at busy times).

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