Do-Ho Suh – Paratrooper-I

[] Suh described Paratrooper-1 as being a kind of self-portrait, describing his experience of going to the United States for the first time. A shiny, metallic soldier pulls 3,000 taut, pink strings linked to the signatures of different people, sewn into a kind of parachute on the wall.
“If there’s no parachute, then the soldier dies. He has to use it. But when he finally lands, he has to fight in a completely unknown territory. That’s something I felt when I went to the United States. It’s a parachute that is directly tied into your life,” he said.

I’ve just discovered Do-Ho Suh’s work in an art magazine and was really touched by it. I was interested to see that my interpretation of his work was different from his own.
Firstly, I never did my military service in France as it was scrapped just before I was due to enter. It is now a professional-only activity. This opens up a big gap between myself and my South Korean friends who all had to serve for 3 years.
Secondly, I interpreted this piece as being a (dark) metaphore of how the military service draws people in regardless of their will and how violent and mentally & physically disturbing this can be on someone; as if the parachute was a draftee’s skin and his name had been successively stitched in his arm and then slowly ripped off.
Thirdly, I was really excited by the graphic power of those names stitched and then pulled by the G.I’s statue. I could imagine seeing in a flash all the names unstitch at the same time and leave the surface of the parachute completely clean with a G.I falling from his tower.

What made me want to write about it here is that the magazine had an interview of him with pink lines linked to some of the words. A subtle (if somewhat gimmicky) way to link the art work to the interview.
It also reminded me of a Central Saint Martin Art degree graduation show book that was using a similar trick to link keywords to a ruler on the side edge of the page that was being used as a navigation device between the different chapters of the book. More on this in a forthcoming entry.