Sarah Sze: A Solo Show
September 5 — October 19, 2019
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
“In the age of the image, a painting is a sculpture.”
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery has announced an upcoming solo exhibition with artist Sarah Sze at the gallery’s New York location. The exhibition will be on view from September 5 through October 19, 2019. This will be the artist’s third solo show with the gallery and her first exhibition in New York since 2015.
“After the rupture, after the apocalypse, amid the ruin of cables and wires, someone might ask: what was the purpose of all of those images within and through which we lived?” Zadie Smith “The Tattered Ruins of the Map” Sarah Sze: Centrifuge (2018).
For more than two decades, Sarah Sze’s work has defied the limitations of artistic media, employing with equal facility sculpture, installation, video, photography, printmaking and painting. Sze has been credited with dismantling and re-envisioning the very potential of objects, simultaneously celebrating the particular relevance of sculpture in contemporary visual culture, while also expanding its definition. However, her focus has been equally tuned to images, considering their materiality, transmutability, and ease of circulation in our increasingly digital existence. Originally trained as a painter, she has consistently looked through the lens of two-dimensionality, including color, line, form and image-making, to consider aspects of sculpture and installation. Sze’s latest body of work frays “the seam between the real and the image” (Smith).
Through complex constellations of objects and a proliferation of images, Sze expands upon the never-ending stream of visual narratives that we negotiate daily, from magazines and newspapers, television and iPhones, to cyberspace and outer space. The works evoke the generative and recursive process of image-making in a world where consumption and production are more interdependent, where the beginning of one idea is the ending of another—and where sculpture gives rise to images, and images to sculpture. In this new exhibition, Sze expands her work by embedding her nuanced sculptural language into the material surfaces of painting and into the digital realm through the interplay of cloth, ink, wood, paper, metal, paint, found objects, light, sound and structural supports—collapsing distinctions between two, three and four dimensions.
This body of work fundamentally alters our sense of time, place, and memory by transforming our experiences of the physical world around us. Both objects and images, Sze says, are “ultimately reminders of our own ephemerality”. The exhibition is immediately visible on the gallery’s exterior storefront windows and fills both floors with an installation that utilizes all media and approaches to art making. On the lower level, the main space is filled with a Plato’s Cave of imagery, entitled Crescent, which scatters out to the entryway, across the walls and onto the floor. An immersive installation of light, sound, film, paintings and objects transforms our sense of materiality and the imaginary.
Moving pictures, scenes, and flickering light surround viewers in loops of personal, researched and found scenes. The installation unfolds in fragments: a fire burns, a building collapses, a child sleeps, static image signals or “snow” overtakes a film clip mid-play. Sze splices together disparate content that viewers, upon moving through the space, edit together through the act of seeing and reading images to create their own narrative content in the work. This interplay of images and content is juxtaposed on the first floor with a “studio space” filled with paintings and other visual elements, utilized by the artist in the making of the work itself. Here Sze debuts a layered painting process in which the medium functions as a portal into two-dimensional experimentation in time, space and memory. Traces of image-making techniques fuse and fade: silkscreen prints, collage, photographs and other elements mark the walls, suggesting the generative process of making in innumerable forms and the ways in which an image is burned into memory and unreliably persists, decaying over time. In two galleries upstairs, painting, video, photography, sculpture likewise morph, with each assuming and absorbing the characteristics of other media and taking on new forms..
Painting fills not only walls, but also the floor; paint is converted into a physical route laid on the floor plane and assumes the role of sculptural entity around which viewers maneuver physically. Sze further generates images of painting, and paintings of images that, in turn, are photographed, printed, recorded, and projected. Her sculpture generates images that are not only used in the paintings, but also fuel the video and installation in an endless feedback loop. Input and output feed the work in ways that confirm that the hierarchies of the originality no longer exist. Taken together, the intermingling of painting, sculpture, photography, video, and architecture become fertile ground for the process of seeing images in time and space—not unlike the way we experience them in the ever shifting, complex, material yet ephemeral world in which we exist.
Sarah Sze’s work has been the subject of major exhibitions worldwide, and in 2003 she was awarded the prestigious MacArthur fellowship. In 2013, she represented the United States at the 55th Venice Biennale with a presentation entitledTriple Point. Her work has also been presented in major solo exhibitions at Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2017); Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen, Denmark (2017); Rose Art Museum, Brandies University, Boston (2016); Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia (2014); Asia Society, New York (2011-12); Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle, UK (2009); Malmo Konsthall, Malmo, Sweden (2006); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2003); Museum of Fine Arts Boston (2002); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2002); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1999); Foundation Cartier, Paris (1999); and the Institute of Contemporary, London (1998).
In October 2019, Sze’s work will be featured in Surrounds: 11 Installations, a major group exhibition for the re-opening of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In December 2019, Sze will have a solo exhibition at the Cartier Foundation in Paris, France. Sze has completed major public commissions for New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2nd Avenue subway line, 96th street station (2017), New York City’s High Line Park (2011-12), the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in New York City, organized by the Public Art Fund (2006), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge (2004), and most recently for Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington (2019). Her work is well represented in private and public collections worldwide, including Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Philadelphia Museum of Art; 21st Century Museum of Art, Kanazawa, Japan; Walker Art Center Minneapolis; Boston Museum of Fine Arts; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; National Gallery of Canada; Tate Collection, London; and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.