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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READ MORE ABOUT BIENNIALS
  • Biennials and Beyond
  • Biennials and Beyond
  • Biennials and Beyond
  • Biennials and Beyond
Biennials and Beyond documents 25 of the most significant and pioneering exhibitions that took place between 1962 and 2002. Some shows have been selected for their innovative installation, others for the impact they had on the reception of contemporary art either globally or in a given country, and yet others for the role they played in advancing significant trends in recent art. Together they form an exceptional sourcebook for anyone interested in contemporary art, the history of exhibitions and curatorial practice.

Within the past decade, the history of art exhibitions has become an important area of academic and critical inquiry. Exhibitions are hubs of interaction within the art world, the places where artists, dealers, critics, and collectors come together, and where the newest art first comes before the public. Biennials and Beyond is the first book to position a range of contemporary exhibitions in the context of art history, providing installation photographs, exhibition floor plans and critical texts from the time, as well as an expansive account of recent exhibition history by Bruce Altshuler.

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