The Art of Diplomacy in Seoul, South Korea

Posted by Virginia Shore
September 22, 2010
High School Uni-Face: Boy, 1997

About the Author: Virginia Shore serves as Chief Curator for ART in EMBASSIES.

As South Korea celebrates the Chuseok holiday, it's worth noting one man whose celebration of tradition is reflected in his work. Do Ho Suh is a renowned sculptor who represented Korea at the 2001 Venice Biennale. Today, his work also includes photography. “High School Uni-Face: Boy”, 1997, currently appears in the Ambassador's residence in Seoul as part of the ART in EMBASSIES exhibition focusing on Korean-American Connections.

Suh's work is exhibited worldwide. The artist describes this image as “…sixty high-school uniforms together in one…It's a jacket of a high-school uniforms, all in black with gold buttons and a priest-like collar. It's a funny thing. Koreans have this nostalgia about the uniform [even though] we hated to wear the uniform…But we tried our best to differentiate our uniforms from one another…It's the individual versus collectivity.”

“High School Uni-Face: Boy” also serves as an homage to a particular moment in the artist's life, addressing the inevitability of loss and separation by transforming memory-time into a materiality that envelops the present.

Suh studied art in the United States at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine, the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, and Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. While he has invested years of his life in the U.S., he is part of an artistic family that values Korean traditions. He divides his time between New York and Seoul. His work often portrays his experiences living between differing cultures.


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