Fallen Star Stuck on Rooftop
FALLEN STAR, a permanent installation by Do Ho Suh 94 PT, teeters on the roof edge of a building on the UCSD campus in San Diego.
Passersby are hoping the 35-ton house Do Ho Suh 94 PT has placed teetering off a seven-story building in southern
California is more illusion than reality. But it’s actually a bit of both.
Star, the permanent installation has been seven years in the making,
commissioned by the University of California / San Diego for its renowned
Stuart Collection (two other RISD alumni, Richard Fleischner 66 SC/MFA 68 and Jenny Holzer MFA 77 PT, were
previously invited to create work for the renowned 18-piece collection). The piece reflects Suh’s ongoing explorations of the idea of
home, the meaning of cultural displacement and how we both perceive and
remember the spaces in which we live – all stemming from his own feelings of
displacement when he arrived in the US from Seoul, Korea to study at RISD.
Cantilevered on at the top of the Engineering School’s main building, the 15 x 18-foot blue clapboard
house is fully furnished, replete with Adirondack chairs placed in a perfect little patch of
front garden. It’s based on a classic
New England cottage Suh remembered from his years in Providence. Inside, the
place feels lived-in, with newspapers strewn around, a kid’s drawing pinned to one
wall, an open bag of candy on the coffee table. Near the door a small
needlepoint of a house offers a reinforcing image of domestic bliss.
“Everything you see is something you’re familiar
with from your own home or your parents’ home or your grandparents’ home,” Suh
told the LA Times. But because the
house is perched on a 5-degree angle, walking into it feels odd. “You
physically experience this instability while you’re surrounded by elements you’re
so comfortable with,” he explains.
When Suh, a renowned artist
who handles commissions around the world, first came to UCSD to develop a
proposal in 2005, he was initially intrigued by the possibilities suggested by
the nearby cliffs. Once he shifted his attention to a site on campus, however, “It
never left me – the idea of a house dangling, holding onto the cliff,” he says.
Cultural, physical and psychological displacement
had long been central to Suh’s work, which is widely embraced for its visual
impact, conceptual strength and extraordinary craftmanship. In the past, he has created replicas
of his childhood home in sheer silk, suspending the evocative structures in
midair. He once cast a version of the East Side mansion-turned-apartment
building that he lived in while at RISD in greenish resin, splitting it into
quarters and pulling them apart to expose the domestic guts of the place. A
major exhibition of these and other works are on view from August 4 through
October 21 in Do Ho Suh: in between at
Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art in Japan.
Star has landed and isn’t moving from its precarious spot on the UCSD
campus, the installation isn’t static. Interior lights turn on and off –
keeping with the late-night schedule typical of most students – and smoke rises
sporadically from the chimney. The garden is filled with East Coast varietals, so
it will continue to change – and ultimately, may not thrive in the southern California
“That’s part of the process,”
Suh says. “It’s part of the survival issue that all…students have to deal with on
campus – in a milder way.”
Stuart Collection slideshow of
Do Ho Suh: In Between at Hiroshima City Museum of
LA Times article Do
Ho Suh’s Fallen Star makes home not