SAN DIEGO — The popular “Fallen Star” art installation at UC San Diego is back open to the public for free tours after a prolonged closure.
The installation, which sits atop the seventh floor of Jacob’s Hall, was created by Korean artist Do Ho Suh in 2012 for the university’s Stuart Collection.
Exploring the concepts of home and family through the lens of cultural displacement, the work draws from Suh’s own experience assimilating to life in the U.S. after he left Korea in the early 90’s to study at the Rhode Island School of Design.
“When he arrived here at UCSD, he saw and he realized that most of the people here on campus are not from San Diego — they come from different parts of the U.S. and come from different parts of the world,” Jessica Berlanga, Stuart Collection curator, explained to FOX 5.
“He thought maybe they’d connect with the same feeling I had when I arrived in the U.S.,” she continued. “I felt like I’d been dropped from the sky into another planet.”
That notion of feeling as if one had fallen out of the sky when moving to a new place inspired the off-center design of the art installation.
The centerpiece of the work is a small cottage that sits crookedly on one corner of Jacobs Hall, cantilevered out over the ground. Inside the house, there is a jarring mix of angles, creating a sense of vertigo intended to evoke the disequilibrium of creating a new home in a new space.
“People feel dizzy, people feel a little bit like carsick sometimes,” Berlanga said. “It all has to do with this feeling of displacement — like you don’t quite know where you are or what’s going on.”
The surroundings and clutter in the space are familiar, including “family” pictures, collectibles, typical furniture that make up a home, children’s drawings and a TV among other things. However, the apparent disconnect inside invites visitors to take a closer look — both at the physical installation and their own understanding of what “home” means.
“Fallen Star” is one of the most well-known art installations in the Stuart Collection on UCSD’s campus. The collection features nearly two dozen works commissioned by contemporary artists from around the globe that are described as unique thinkers “associated with movements or attitudes that are seldom represented in public sculpture collections.”
Other projects in the Stuart Collection includes “The La Jolla Project” — also known as “Stonehenge” — by Richard Fleischner and the massive “Bear” sculpture by Tim Hawkinson.
Unlike some of the other projects in the collection, “Fallen Star” can only be visited through scheduled tours on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Individual and small group reservations can be made on the UCSD Stuart Collection website.
At the end of September, tours were reopened to the public for the first time after it was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This quarter, visiting hours are slated to run through Dec. 14 before picking back up again after the university’s winter break.
Other works by Suh are in prestigious museum collections across the world, including the Museum of Modern Art; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the Walker Art Center; the Tate Modern; Artsonje Center, Seoul; the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo; and the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, Korea.