Sarah Sze

Art21 "Extended Play" | How We See the World
March 25, 2016

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." For her 2015 exhibition at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Sze amplified and countered this contemporary experience through her installation "Second Studio". By arranging paint skins, torn paper images, and other materials such as wood, thread, and rocks, Sze explored our fragmented relationship to illusionistic images by focusing our attention on each object's materiality. "We have so much illusion but we don't have touch and we don't have taste and we don’t have smell—we don’t have that intimacy with images."


Sarah Sze builds her installations and intricate sculptures from the minutiae of everyday life, imbuing mundane materials, marks, and processes with surprising significance. Combining domestic detritus and office supplies into fantastical miniatures, she builds her works, fractal-like, on an architectural scale. Whether adapting to a venue or altering the urban fabric, Sze's patchwork compositions mirror the improvisational quality of cities, balancing whimsy with ecological themes of interconnectivity and sustainability.