With the start of each new year I find myself measuring the last in terms of places I went, new experiences I tackled, challenges I faced. Did I go overseas? (no) Did I go somewhere new? (yes) Did I persevere through things that made me uncomfortable? (yes)
With one more year squared away, the pregnant promise of a new year inevitably begins to invade my waking thoughts. What’s next? Where will I go? If I stay here have I grown stagnant?
That last one, that’s the kicker.
I rounded out the year’s end with a trip to San Francisco, one long trip to Brooklyn, and a quick visit to Seattle. All places I’d been before, all places I’ve contemplated moving to before. And the intoxicating cocktail of ‘what’s next for 2015’ mixed with my natural inclination to imagine a new life everywhere I travel was (not surprisingly) very potent.
My head’s been swimming with thoughts of home, homes I’ve had, the future dream-homes I’ve picked out, the home I’ve currently committed to, and the whole idea of a “home.” In the past I’ve found home in a place, in a boyfriend, in family. And if I’ve learned anything in my 28 years it is that all of this is fluid and, much to my chagrin, out of my control.
So rather than travel overseas in 2014 I resolved to stay at home, to seek pleasure in nesting, and most importantly (and most challenging) to feel grounded and at home in my body, no matter where in the world I am.
The longest I’ve ever lived in one place is 4 years. As such, I segment my life by houses, countries and continents. My first stint in my birthplace was just 2 years, followed by a move every 3 or 4 years across 5 different continents (with and without my family) until I landed in my current location, Austin TX. And I’m going on year 3 here.
Enter the 3-year itch.
One major development of 2014 though, was that I grew some roots – in the form of a mortgage. A giant tick on the to-do list of my adult life and a big terrifying responsibility, and finally something to tie me down to one spot, at least for now.
So when I visited the Contemporary Austin on a whim recently, I was shocked to see all of my disparate thoughts transcribed so perfectly on paper and fabric by Do Ho Suh.
Korean-born artist Do Ho Suh’s oeuvre explores the idea of home, displacement, and memories of past homes and expresses them through recreations of all of the homes he has lived in. His recent multipart installation at the Contemporary Austin included a full sized replica of his New York apartment, ‘apartment A, unit 2, corridor and staircase, 348 west 22nd street, new york, NY 10011, USA’ in a dreamy palette of pastel colors that we could walk in and amongst. Every handsewn detail was impeccably reproduced from the hinges on the closet doors to all of the tiny switches in the breaker panel. The transparent fabric had a ghostlike quality that allowed you to see through walls into all of the various rooms, and gave the odd experience of looking through the building from its exterior. I grew up in so many houses that I will likely never see again, I can only imagine what it would be like to see them again, replicated in this way. Though Suh admits “it’s intrinsically impossible to make them exact,” he says “I wanted to achieve something intangible. It’s about memory, time spent in the space.”
If you ever have the opportunity to view Do Ho Suh’s work, and he’s so internationally in-demand right now that you very well might, I wholeheartedly urge that you take it.