• Suh Dongwook, My Blue Baggage,  Installation View, ONE AND J. Gallery

    Suh Dongwook, My Blue Baggage, Installation View, ONE AND J. Gallery

  • Suh Dongwook, My Blue Baggage,  Installation View, ONE AND J. Gallery

    Suh Dongwook, My Blue Baggage, Installation View, ONE AND J. Gallery

  • Suh Dongwook, My Blue Baggage,  Installation View, ONE AND J. Gallery

    Suh Dongwook, My Blue Baggage, Installation View, ONE AND J. Gallery

  • Suh Dongwook, My Blue Baggage,  Installation View, ONE AND J. Gallery

    Suh Dongwook, My Blue Baggage, Installation View, ONE AND J. Gallery

  • Suh Dongwook, My Blue Baggage,  Installation View, ONE AND J. Gallery

    Suh Dongwook, My Blue Baggage, Installation View, ONE AND J. Gallery

The work of Suh Dongwook, whether it is a painting or a movie, portrays how the past waiting for salvation intervenes with certain moments of present; however, what is to be carefully observed is that the subject of presence does not correspond with that of the past. The memory of the past belongs to a missing subject of the present, and a story of the present belongs to a present subject who has reconstructed the memory of the other who has intervened in his own life. Nonetheless such categorization is not always clear; their stories circulate conflicting with each other. Therefore, the past does not simply end but it keeps interacting with the present creating whole new, different stories. This is directly shown through his movies.
Emergence of the other’s past waiting for salvation
The artist’s so-called starting point of the works, Mimi, 2004, ends with following statement: “For my twenties that have squandered in love.”
Mimi begins from a box that has been left by a woman. “Stopped” photographs that stipulate the woman’s life in Paris are in the box. Those photographs are possible elements of her; however, Suh does not define the moment to stop, but convert to personal epic, pulling into his own memory. The subject is absent, but his pieces only remain. Composing a character with such evidence means total exposure of an individual, and the subject of a memory must interfere. Following this logic, final destination of the work is not a woman called Mimi, but “my twenties.”
Another video-work, rue du Theatre obscur 2007, also focuses on nostalgia of a specific character and the layout of discovering him. Like it is in Mimi, the “supposed-to-be-discovered” character keeps sliding away from the artist’s memory. Moreover, unknown individual from a different shot is seeking around for something whenever Seunghyun Lee’s narrative is present. Except for the fact that these two figures are looking for something, they have nothing to do with each other. Because of Lee’s strong voice over two channels, the unknown man may seem to be meaningless; however, when the unknown looks straight toward the screen (until this moment, characters from two channels have never looked straight toward the screen) as he was exposed to a strong headlight of the car driven by the narrator, the man becomes interactive with Lee’s screen.
(2009) of the present show also starts with a memory of the other’s unexpected visit. The movie begins with clear construction of positive and negative space. There lay two rooms with light in the room filled with darkness. As one light is turned off, a woman with blue baggage stands with a man under a remaining light. They talk, but all the audience can hear is the meaningless noise not their conversation. It is easy to hear the movement of a man, the actual conversation that to be heard is not apparent. Audience can simply guess what they are talking about by looking at the written address left by a woman. What they talked about and how the address relates to a conversation are unknown to audience. The man only supposes to deliver the baggage to the written address. For the first time during the movie sequences, the man develops ‘a language (his desire)’ while preparing the money for the travel. In the midst of his mundane everyday life, he expressed the reason for traveling through language. After the sequence, the movie continues only with noise and visual images.
Attaches another story to the existing plot. Working at a restaurant and writing a script, the man talks about a blue baggage to his friend. His friend’s reaction is that he has heard about the story before. This familiar story shares certain elements with a story before: blue baggage, a movie maker who lent money to the man, same space, same daily lives, and the written address obtained by both figures. These two figures can be either identical or totally unrelated. (During the phone conversation, the account numbers of the money sender and the receiver are identical.) Likewise, they do not suggest specific narrative but the audiences sympathize with different emotions occurring to the main characters.
Suh Dongwook does not finish the narrative. He expresses the main point from the narrative through paintings. Painting supplements removed narrative from the movie. (Supplemented narrative means the re-emphasis of certain spaces, and figures that have been already mentioned in the movie.) Spaces or figures in the paintings are in the spot of strong flash. These exposed elements are not portrayed to be realistic, but flat on two-dimensional surface as they are attached in the memory. In the flat surface, only the view of the subject exists. Rather than expanding the detailed expression to an entire screen, the artist expresses colors of the moment when the light reflects. There exist viewer’s (narrative’s expressed emotion) glimpse, not a specific figure or a space.
By Dae-Bum Lee (art critic)