Korean artist wins competition for the Norwegian Government Building Complex part 6 (R6)

The artist Do Ho Suh (South Korea/USA) has won the international competition for the public, outdoor art project for the Government Building Complex Part 6 (R6) with his proposal Grass Roots Square. The project will be situated in the square in front of R6 and has a unique interpretative potential – both politically and artistically – given its location in the middle of the Government Building Complex, says Gro Kraft, Director of Public Art Norway (KORO).

The artist Do Ho Suh (South Korea/USA) has won the international competition for the public, outdoor art project for the Government Building Complex Part 6 (R6) with his proposal Grass Roots Square. The project will be situated in the square in front of R6 and has a unique interpretative potential – both politically and artistically – given its location in the middle of the Government Building Complex, says Gro Kraft, Director of Public Art Norway (KORO).

Do Ho Suh (born 1962 in Seoul, South Korea) lives and works in Seoul and New York. Do Ho Suh is represented by the gallery Lehmann Maupin in New York. He was educated in Korea and in the US, and has exhibited extensively internationally.

Do Ho Suh explores the relationship between individuality, collectivity and anonymity, and his work draws on his personal experience of the meeting between Korean and American culture. He has become renowned for his large-scale, precisely executed sculptures and installations. Do Ho Suh is interested in how physical and psychological spaces are created and shaped. His work invokes on-going negotiations and collisions between individuals and the socio-cultural and political realities that surround them.

The winning project Grass Roots Square takes the outer corner of the paved square in front of R6 as a starting point, where the artist has proposed to plant a tree. Between, and partly replacing the paving stones in this area, he will place a number of 8-10 cm high human figures in green-patinated bronze, like blades of grass sprouting up among the stones. From above this creates a geometric pattern across the square.

The art selection committee opted for a global approach when they invited the following five international artists/collectives to a closed competition: Meschac Gaba (The Netherlands/Benin), Ayşe Erkmen (Turkey/Germany), Song Dong & Yin Xiuzhen (China), Do Ho Suh (Korea/USA) and Raqs Media Collective (India). Do Ho Suh’s winning project carries a clear and considered idea, and stands as coherent and independent art project that will activate the whole area and become a permanent part of Oslo’s urban public space.

From the Jury’s assessment:
Do Ho Suh’s project is very convincing, both visually and conceptually. The project explicitly deals with the issues of power, democracy and the friction between those who govern and the people who are governed. The ambiguous representation of the grassroots as something that is the basis for the existing order, as well as something that pushes itself into view and spreads across the square is both complex and immediately accessible to most people. The variation of the figures in terms of age, gender and ethnicity offers all viewers the opportunity to identify with the project, and opens up for multiple interpretations. The project compliments the terrain and the architect’s overarching concept of a slope down towards the entrance. The small and unassuming form of the figures becomes a powerfully poetic manifestation in this particular context. The tall tree will function as an important contrasting feature, which also adds the element of seasonal change. The form, content and location of the project will activate and enhance the collective nature of this urban space by addressing the public directly.

The Jury consisted of the art selection committee for R6 ( kunstutvalget) as well as Professor Jan Brockmann.

The Jury’s assessment as well as press images will be available on KORO’s website from Wednesday 27 January 2010 following an open press conference with the artist and the Jury.