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CHECKOUT What’s Cool: The Little/Big Art of Do Ho Suh & Wish Babelgum Times Square Would Do It Again

January 21, 2010 COOL STUFF No Comments

Here is one very cool artist and one very cool competition.

The first is the art of Korean born Do Ho Suh whose installations explore personal space versus public space.   His tiny figures are valiant, almost heroic, in their herculean struggles.  They hold up floors (literally), they attempt to escape oppression (metaphorically), they inverse the entire concept of public space (symbolically).  Suh’s installations suggest that in an age of individuality there is strength in numbers and homogeneity.  In his “Public Figures”, Suh does a complete 360 by transforming the traditional column/pedestal usually associated with public homage to an individual’s greatness into a commemoration of  the collective whole.  Suh’s “Public Figures” is not about some important historic figure whose significance most of us only vaguely recall.  Instead, it is a sculptural salute to humanity and our joint accomplishments.  Together, you can perform great feats – this is what Suh’s art seems to say.  Suh takes public art -in this case public art within the interior of a city hall which, as an “official” state building, is the traditional domain of esteemed individuals we may or may not recall from history classes – and gives it back to us.  As such, “Public Figures” becomes a spiritual reclamation.

Do Ho Suh's "Public Figures"

Do Ho Suh's "Karma", 2003, courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery

Do Ho Suh's "Floor", 1997-2000, courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery

What I wish could be an annual event is Babelgum’s 2009 Metrolopis Art Prize Competition where artists were invited to submit either a video of their work or a work of video art (no longer than five minutes)  The prize?  Twenty thousand dollars PLUS the opportunity to have their video showcased on one of the Times Square billboards.  In a world where art is increasingly moving away from the walls of museums and galleries – what better venue!

The winner?  Christopher Coleman’s “The Magnitude of the Continental Divides”.  The video explores war and its magnitude of division between continents and people.  It oscillates between retreat and attack with the individual left in limbo.

Still from Christopher Coleman's "The Magnitude of the Continental Divides"

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