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Artist Sarah Sze
November 22, 2010

Sarah Sze

Sarah Sze, 360 (Portable Planetarium), 2010, Mixed media, 162 x 136 x 185 in., installed at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Photo © William Kimber

Installation artist Sarah Sze gave an enthusiastic talk the other evening at the McEvoy Auditorium at American Art, as the third and final speaker of this year's Clarice Smith Distinguished Lecture Series in American Art. Sze took us on a tour (albeit by slides) of her intricate, yet immense site-specific sculptural installations that often ask viewers to rethink how they experience space. Her labor-intensive work combines painting, sculpture, and architecture, and includes everyday objects such as light bulbs, teabags, and toilet paper. (She told us that her father was an architect and her mother, a kindergarten teacher; somehow that made sense.) "How do you create value in an object?" she asked, then showed us her works that do just that.

Her installation at the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art in 1999 came out of the question she put to herself, "What's the conversation with the building?" In this case, her installation was made out of 39 ladders aluminum ladders (aluminum being the same material as the cool building by architect Jean Nouvel) that she cut up and rejoined. For "Things Fall Apart," her 2001 installation at SFMOMA, she disassembled a car in her New York Studio, "chopped it up into five pieces," then had it reinstalled in the museum's atrium, in five sections. She wanted to create "something that looked like it tumbled through space." Sze deconstructed the car till it lost its identity as that recognizable object.

When people ask her about the effects of time on her work, she gave the example of one piece that was up for three years, and nobody touched it, inviting as her pieces are. However, "occasionally, people leave things in my work," making her think, "odd, I didn't put that there."

Watch the webcast of Sarah Sze's talk at American Art.

Posted by Howard on November 22, 2010 in Lectures on American Art


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