The South Korean artist Do Ho Suh, is a perfect complement to ‘Freespace’, the theme of the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. His fascination with rendering the built environment appears to suggest both form and memory in his work, which straddles drawing and sculpture. Victoria Miro gallery’s exhibition in Venice is the result of a three-year residency at the STPI Creative Workshop, Singapore, in which Suh created rubbings of everyday objects and interior spaces from his personal surroundings.

The delicacy and fragility of the objects, which form his on-going project, ‘Rubbing/Loving’ is compelling. To make the work he stretches paper over everyday objects such as pipes, light switches, a hairdryer and telephone, and then rubs colour into the surface. The paper pieces, which have been described as epidermis – a second or surrogate skin – create molds which contains no objects just an outline of what was there.

In addition to the sculptures, Suh was invited by the V&A, London to make a response to the architecture and interior of Robin Hood Gardens, an internationally recognised social housing estate designed by the architects Alison and Peter Smithson in East London. The work forms part of the exhibition ‘Robin Hood Gardens: A Ruin in Reverse’, (Pavilion of Applied Arts, Venice) which takes its name from the renowned American artist Robert Smithson’s writings, who described buildings in construction on the outskirts of New York as ultimately ending up as ruins, a comment on the short life span of architecture.

The film records four of the interior flats, through vertical and horizontal pans representing both time and space, all the more urgent as the flats are in the process of demolition. Perhaps a mediation not only on the heated issue of social housing but architecture’s ephemerality and ability to linger in our memories.§

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