By John David Back
Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how boundless human creativity can be. We slip into our day-to-day routine, doing what we need to do to pay the bills, and we forget. We forget to look for and find the beauty in the everyday details. We forget to see the really interesting shit.
Do Ho Suh has not forgotten. With his absurdly inspiring exhibit, Passage, at the CAC through Sept. 11, Suh pulls us out of our “life is okay” fog and gently wipes the sleep from our eyes. He implores us to take a closer look at two things we see everywhere: string and rooms. He turns both into marvels of human creation.
SIMPLY PUT, IT’S ANYTHING BUT SIMPLE
Let me try to word this in blunt, Normal Guy terms: this man built entire life-size rooms with a needle and thread. He sewed a two-stories-tall blue stairwell complete with blood-red stairs and bannisters. He sewed two gigantic mirroring arches that look like they could be holding up minivans on the Roebling.
Who here even knows the right way to sew a button back onto a shirt?
On the second level of the exhibit (5th floor at CAC), you can actually walk down a long, SEWN HALLWAY. Those two words have never appeared side-by-side in a sentence before in the human language before Suh and this review.
With string and cloth, Suh has recreated a variety of everyday items. From stitched brand names on door locks (Yale) to hinges and handles and windows, it is all as beautiful as it is patently unbelievable. I’ve never stared into a door knob for three minutes straight before.
Meticulous to an obsessive degree, you can read the usage instructions on a to-scale fire extinguisher. If the exhibit caught on fire, you could convincingly pretend to put it out with this thing. However, you’d probably want to walk calmly to the nearest exit instead.
Collective CAC, the coffee bar and cafe in the CAC lobby, makes a mean lunch and an even meaner almond latte. And admission to the CAC is free. You must go.
Spend just 20 minutes in this exhibit and you’ll leave feeling refreshed and alive, I promise.
John David Back is a Cincinnati native who lives and works in OTR. He’s an avid reader and a mediocre writer who loves the experience of art and beauty. Tell him what he should experience and send fan mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.