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Do Ho Suh at London Mithraeum review

Art Bloomberg SPACE , Bank Until Saturday January 22 2022 Free
Photo by Marcus Leith, courtesy Bloomberg SPACE © Do Ho Suh
Photo by Marcus Leith, courtesy Bloomberg SPACE © Do Ho Suh

Time Out says

It’s like Trigger’s Broom down in the London Mithraeum. The ancient Roman Temple of Mithras was discovered in the 1950s, moved about a bit, covered in crazy paving, moved into storage and then moved back a few metres from where they first found it, reassembled piece by piece each time. If you move a building from where it was built, is it still the same building? If you rebuild it, is it still itself?

That’s one of the questions Korean artist Do Ho Suh is contending with upstairs, where he’s built his own recreation of an ancient temple: the long lost Sach’onwang-sa from the city of Gyeongju. 

He’s recreated it based on a single account, imagining how it would have looked in its heyday. A square of stones marks the base and a frame above holds a rainbow of taut, shimmering fabric with a structure of twisting crystalline orange forms hung from the middle.

It’s not an especially impressive work - if anything, it looks like a tarted up Argos gazebo - and it feels a little bit like it was just plonked in the space without much care. But what it lacks in that department it goes some way in making up for with its ideas, because a movable temple makes so much more sense when considered in the context of the Temple of Mithras, an ancient place of worship and revelry and prayer that has been endlessly moved and shifted and pushed about. Do Ho Suh’s structure takes that idea as a leaping off point to explore a world of rituals, prayer, transitoriness and power (the original temple was destroyed when Korea was invaded by the Chinese Tang Empire). 

By creating a movable temple, a space for prayer that you can take anywhere, Do Ho Suh is giving the viewer, the worshipper, the power to imbue the space with significance. Regardless of place. Or whether or not some developer thinks it would look better four metres to the left.

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