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Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible Ocula Report Havana Biennial 2019: Constructing the Possible 17 Apr 2019 : Federica Bueti for Ocula

I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...

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Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui Ocula Conversation Andrew Stahl and Guo Xiaohui

The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...

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The National 2019: New Australian Art Ocula Report The National 2019: New Australian Art 13 Apr 2019 : Elyse Goldfinch for Ocula

The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...

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Sarah Sze

b. 1969, USA

Sarah Sze is an American artist known for her intricate installations and taxonomic arrangements, both consisting of everyday objects. A fluid amalgamation of two-dimensional image, sculpture, video, installation and science, Sze's work not only challenges the convention of sculpture as a static object, but also offers a fantastical investigation into the measurement of time and space.

Sze refers to her artworks as experiments, at the centre of which experiments exist investigations into a certain material's context or qualities. In the case of Cotissi—an installation created for Glasstress in 2017 (an official collateral event of that year's Venice Biennale)—the inquiry is into the properties of broken glass. Set in concrete, the glass shards originally set aside for recycling are both scintillating to look at and dangerous, given their jagged edges. In an earlier installation titled Stone Series (2013-5) (part of Sze's solo exhibition organised by Victoria Miro in 2015), the artist arranged a group of rocks on the floor. At first glance, the rocks appear massive and immovable; however, closer inspection reveals them to be lightweight imitations created by covering wire armature with printed boulder-pattern. On the wall, a row of canvases contains the printed textures of the rocks on display, flattening the weight and volume associated with a rock into two dimensions.

Another concern that Sze repeatedly returns to is time, as explored in Still Life with Desk and Calendar Series (both 2013-5). Still Life with Desk is a mixed-media sculpture that seems to have been frozen in a moment of disintegration; an intricate wire structure acts as a desk over which the artist has placed office-related objects including photographs, stationery, takeaway coffee cups, bottled water and potted plants. Some objects have spilled onto the floor, while more appear ready to follow. The spillage on the ground also includes silkscreen prints of newspaper front pages that, while all dated January 1, 2014, were each issued in a different location in a different time zone. In a further attempt to mark various moments in time, Sze replaces the photographs in the prints with pictures of the night sky.

Similarly centred on the passage of time, Calendar Series saw Sze collect 90 front pages of The New York Times. The artists again swapped out the newspaper's photographs, this time for images of nature such as the ocean or a snowscape. Discussing the work in an interview with Ocula Magazine in 2015, Sze recalled the questions that arose while working with time: 'How do you measure either space or time through materials or objects? What is our behaviour in doing that? ... How do we mark time not only physically, but emotionally or psychologically?'

Calendar Series—originally conceived for an exhibition at Philadelphia's Fabric Workshop and Museum in 2014—later developed an unexpected political dimension, beginning with its acceptance for the 1st Asian Biennial and the 5th Guangzhou Triennial (both 2015) in China. When Chinese authorities requested Sze remove parts of the newspaper that referenced China, the artist responded by painting over them with black acrylic. In 2016, Sze presented another revision of Calendar Series for Protest—a group exhibition at Victoria Miro in London that showcased artists whose works challenge the status quo—in which she obliterated all written content, save for references to China.

In 2016, Sze expanded her interest in ways of measuring time and space with Timekeeper, a tabletop installation that resembles a scientist's den or a writer's desk with its assemblage of objects including mirrors, lamps, stools, stones, alarm clocks with neon numerals and a metronome, among others. For this installation, the artist projected a diverse range of videos onto a myriad of surfaces, illustrating the many forms of time; the footage includes cheetahs running in slow motion, birds in flight and at rest, and water flowing. Displayed inside a darkened room, the installation was a rich landscape of fragmented and kaleidoscopic imagery.

Reminiscent of Timekeeper is Measuring Stick (2015), another tabletop installation that measures time and space through the moving image. Inspired by the film Powers of Ten (1977) by Charles and Ray Eames and its use of the factor of ten to quantify the universe, Measuring Stick combines mathematics and science with art; one of the installation's projections is a live-feed of data from NASA that charts the distance between Voyager 1 and Earth.

Although she is widely recognised for her sculptures, Sze also considers drawing a significant part of her practice for its sense of immediacy and potential to develop into other mediums. Her familiarity with the two-dimensional form stems from her background in painting, graduating with a BA from Yale University in 1991 and an MFA from New York's School of Visual Arts in 1997.

Exhibiting internationally since the late 1990s, Sze has held solo and group exhibitions at Victoria Miro, London (2018, 2016, 2015, 2012, 2009, 2007); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2017); Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York (2015, 2014, 2010); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2003); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2002); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2002); and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (1999) among others. She has participated in the Venice Biennale and its collateral events four times, and in 2013 she represented the United States with Triple Point—an exhibition of interrelated and immersive installations that examined the notion of the compass and our desire to find equilibrium. Her participation in other international group exhibitions includes La Biennale de Lyon (2009), Liverpool Biennial (2008), Whitney Biennial (2000) and Carnegie International (1999). Sze lives and works in New York.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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White Light (Half-life) by Sarah Sze contemporary artwork Sarah SzeWhite Light (Half-life), 2018 Oil paint, acrylic paint, archival paper, UV stabilizers, ink and acrylic polymers, shellac, water based-primer and wood
40.6 x 50.8 x 3.8 cm
Gagosian
Ghost Print (Half-life) by Sarah Sze contemporary artwork Sarah SzeGhost Print (Half-life), 2018 Oil paint, acrylic paint, archival paper, adhesive, tape, ink, acrylic polymers, shellac, water-based primer and wood
213.4 x 266.7 x 10.2 cm
Gagosian
First Time (Half-life) by Sarah Sze contemporary artwork Sarah SzeFirst Time (Half-life), 2018 Oil paint, acrylic paint, archival paper, adhesive, tape, ink, acrylic polymers, shellac, water based primer and wood
213.4 x 266.7 x 10.2 cm
Gagosian
Afterimage, Folded Earth with Rainbow Disturbance (Painting in its Archive) by Sarah Sze contemporary artwork Sarah SzeAfterimage, Folded Earth with Rainbow Disturbance (Painting in its Archive), 2018 Oil paint, acrylic paint, archival paper, UV stabilizers, adhesive, tape, ink and acrylic polymers, shellac, water based primer on wood
Victoria Miro
Afterimage, Blue with Fingerprint (Painting in its Archive) by Sarah Sze contemporary artwork Sarah SzeAfterimage, Blue with Fingerprint (Painting in its Archive), 2018 Oil paint, acrylic paint, archival paper, UV stabilizers, adhesive, tape, ink and acrylic polymers, shellac, water based primer on wood
Victoria Miro
Afterimage, Rainbow Disturbance (Painting in its Archive) by Sarah Sze contemporary artwork Sarah SzeAfterimage, Rainbow Disturbance (Painting in its Archive), 2018 Oil paint, acrylic paint, aluminium, archival paper, UV stabilizers, adhesive, tape, ink and acrylic polymers, shellac, water based primer on wood
Victoria Miro

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Sarah Sze, Sarah Sze at Gagosian, Rome
Closed
13 October 2018–26 January 2019 Sarah Sze Sarah Sze Gagosian, Rome
Contemporary art exhibition, Sarah Sze, Afterimage at Victoria Miro, London
Closed
8 June–28 July 2018 Sarah Sze Afterimage Victoria Miro, Wharf Road, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition curated by Hilton Als, Forces in Nature at Victoria Miro, London
Closed
13 October–14 November 2015 Group Exhibition curated by Hilton Als Forces in Nature Victoria Miro, Wharf Road, London

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Art Basel in Hong Kong 2019: A Post-mortem Ocula Report Art Basel in Hong Kong 2019: A Post-mortem 6 Apr 2019 : Diana d’Arenberg for Ocula

Although Art Basel in Hong Kong is the youngest of the Art Basel fairs, and a relative newcomer to the international art fair circuit, it has now become a major attraction for collectors and galleries from around the world. The seventh edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong saw thousands of art courtesans and benefactors kick off the week with a string...

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Sarah Sze Ocula Conversation Sarah Sze Artist, USA

Sarah Sze, who represented the United States at the last Venice Biennale, uses a myriad of everyday objects to create site-specific sculptures that are often monumental in size, and always of astonishing intricacy. Daughter of an architect and graduate of painting from Yale, her practice draws on the formal considerations of both architecture...

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In Related Press

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The Randomness of All These Things Is Actually Really Precise: Sarah Sze Related Press The Randomness of All These Things Is Actually Really Precise: Sarah Sze Sarah Sze : 1 January 2019

Immersing the spectator in site-specific installations that she herself compares to "studio visits," both intimate and in flux, US artist Sarah Sze combines intricate systems of objects and images across multiple mediums, from sculpture to painting, drawing, printmaking, and video. On the occasion of her first solo show in an Italian...

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SARAH SZE: “HOW DO WE BREATHE LIFE INTO OBJECTS?” Related Press SARAH SZE: “HOW DO WE BREATHE LIFE INTO OBJECTS?” The Talks : 24 October 2018

Ms. Sze, is it important that your art feels alive in some way?Well, you don't know, you just hope. One of the things that's interesting is that when you put something into the world, its meaning changes over time. It means different things in different cultures, to different age groups... You put it into the world and the alive-ness of it is only...

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Sarah Sze Paints a Picture Related Press Sarah Sze Paints a Picture Elephant : 30 June 2018

The walls in Sarah Sze's studio are covered by hundreds of images torn roughly into rectangles. Some are pictures of people or landscapes or her earlier work, others read only as colour and texture. Overlapping in clusters, they're taped and pinned along with sketches, tickets, letters, Xeroxes, peeled paint—the way deranged conspiracy...

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Sarah Sze: ‘I don’t do Twitter. There’s enough information in my head already’ Related Press Sarah Sze: ‘I don’t do Twitter. There’s enough information in my head already’ The Guardian : 16 June 2018

Sarah Sze (pronounced 'Zee') was born in Boston in 1969. She studied painting at New York's School of Visual Arts but is now known for her sculptures and installations exploring ideas of time and space and the relentless flow of information of the digital age. She was awarded a MacArthur fellowship (AKA the 'genius grant') in 2003 and represented...

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In Related Video

Sarah Sze – ‘You Mark Time Through Objects’ | TateShots Related Video & Audio Sarah Sze – ‘You Mark Time Through Objects’ | TateShots Tate : 11 January 2019

Sarah Sze discusses her installation Seamless as it is installed at Tate Modern, London, 2018.

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Sarah Sze: ‘Afterimage’ Related Video & Audio Sarah Sze: ‘Afterimage’ Victoria Miro : 11 June 2018

'You're having this filmic way of reading images as they move, and you move, through space.' In this film, the artist discusses the process of creating the new site-specific works in her exhibition at Victoria Miro: Images in Debris, an installation of images, light, sound, film, and objects, that seeks to transform the visitor's perception and...

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Sarah Sze: 'Measuring Stick' Related Video & Audio Sarah Sze: 'Measuring Stick' art21 : 7 April 2016

Sarah Sze discusses her sculpture Measuring Stick (2015), which explores the "measurement of time and space through the moving image." Sze remembers watching Charles and Ray Eames's Powers of Ten as a young student in the 1970s, and cites the film as an inspiration for her work. "That was something I always looked forward to...

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Sarah Sze: How We See the World | Art21 "Extended Play" Related Video & Audio Sarah Sze: How We See the World | Art21 "Extended Play" Art21 : 25 March 2016

Episode #233: Sarah Sze expresses her desire to have a tactile relationship with materials in a world saturated with digital imagery. In describing today's visual culture, Sze says, 'You don't know the authorship of an image when it gets to you, you can manipulate it and you can send it—it's a kind of images as debris.'

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