Do-Ho Suh (Korean, b. 1962)
Stainless steel military dog tags, steel structure, fiberglass resin and fabric Collection Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, 2003.02
Gift of Marti and Tony Oppenheimer, Los Angeles, CA, in honor of our children
A tall, hollow robe with extended arms, Do-Ho Suh’s Some/One is composed of thousands of military dog tags that refer to the artist’s experience in the military. Suh did two years of compulsory service in the South Korean army, undergoing what he later called ” a process of dehumanization. ” The overlapping dog tags of his sculpture, printed with meaningless strings of roman letters and arabic numerals, emphasize the anonymity of soldiers massed together in a militaristic structure and perhaps, by extension, suggest the subjugation of the individual within any unified social order. Some/One evokes the style of a public monument, but without a specific referent. It can be interpreted alternately, or simultaneously, as a monument to a heroic figure, symbolized by the hollow garment, and a monument to the individuals represented by the dog tags. Specially commissioned for the Oppenheimer Collection, this version of Some/One differs from the initial one, which featured a skirt of dog tags that spread across the floor and over which viewers were welcome to walk, and a mirrored interior in which viewers saw their reflections. The more self-contained Oppenheimer work does not invite such interaction, and its blood red interior hints at the vulnerability of the human body, especially in war. It also alludes to lives lost and blood shed by anonymous soldiers in support of a regime or individual. Do-Ho Suh earned a BFA and an MFA from Seoul National University in 1985 and 1987, and he also earned a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in 1994 and an MFA from Yale University in 1997. This work was first exhibited in the 2004 Contemplating War exhibition at the ICCC Gallery of Art.