Venice Biennale The American Pavilion

Sculptor Sarah Sze promises accumulation of everyday materials to create gravity-defying sculptural environments
The Triple Point of Water (2003) by Sarah Sze
The Triple Point of Water (2003) by Sarah Sze


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Last Venice Biennale, the US representatives, Allora and Calzadilla, drew crowds with their upturned tank and treadmill.  Entitled Track and Field, it made for a bombastic, showy installation in the giardini. 2013's US offering, may not draw quite so much commentary from bloggers and tourists, but for the patient observer, it could very well prove more engaging and rewarding.

One of Phaidon.com's favourite sculptors and installation artists Sarah Sze is representing The USA this year, with a work called Triple Point. Sze will, according to The Bronx Museum, whose executive director Holly Block has co-commissioned the piece, "transform the U.S. Pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale with her signature site-specific installations." Engaging architecture and space in new ways, Sze's works feature the accumulation of everyday materials to create gravity-defying sculptural environments.

 

Still Life with Path (Model for Habitat) (2011) by Sarah Sze

Still Life with Path (Model for Habitat) (2011) by Sarah Sze

Sze might work with everyday objects - aspirin, cotton buds, car parts, among others - but her works are far from quotidian. Instead they take on a near-Baroque quality in their beauty and complexity. Her 2011-2012 installation on New York's High Line, Still Life with Path (Model for Habitat), was a series of wood-effect boxes, which also served as butterfly and bird habitats, while her 2010 installation, 360 (Portable Planetarium), consisted of, "wood, paper, string, jeans, rocks" and other items, bringing to mind the complexity of our interconnected world.

Following the Venice announcement, Sze told the New Yorker that "the whole point of my art is that logic breaks down. When you put [the materials] in a list, it feels very literal. The experience can only happen in space."

In the same piece, veteran fellow sculptor, Richard Serra concurs. "She's changing the potential of sculpture. I hadn't seen anyone deal with place and location in that way." Serra adds, "This is like seeing Twombly and Pollock in space."

 

Tilting Planet (2009) by Sarah Sze

Tilting Planet (2009) by Sarah Sze

Those not fortunate enough to see Sze's installation first hand will, however, be able to view it online, via the Bronx Museum's site. And the title? Well, in physics, as all eggheads should know, the triple point is the exact level of pressure and temperature at which a substance exists in all three states (gas, liquid and solid); it's a term Sze has used before, in her 2003 Whitney exhibition, The Triple Point of Water. If you've got this far you won't expect Sze's installation to be an easy read, though you'll doubtless realise it'll be one you'll think on for years to come.

To find out more, go here, and for a little more on Sarah, take a look at our Not Afraid book, where her work is showcased alongside other works owned by the Rubell family in Miami, Florida.

 

Now Dangling Still (2008) Sarah Sze

Now Dangling Still (2008) Sarah Sze


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