Sarah Sze has achieved a new and exciting level of aesthetic unity in her work. Not that she left behind the improvisational and aleatory or the ephemeral and fragile in her constructions. To the contrary, all of these qualities were in evidence, but presented, despite their rough-and-ready posturing, with a new poignancy. Visitors had to tread lightly here through a seeming chaos of detritus, reflecting Sze’s desire to incorporate them into the creative act.
The 26 works here all dealt with the dialectical relationship between presences and absences—most especially, the idea that by the time the viewer experiences the art, the artist is gone. Measuring Stick (2015) summarized the show. In a dark room a glass-topped dining table was arranged with myriad objects: video projectors, mirrors, a can of soda, a bottle of water, an egg in a cage, a lava lamp, and the like. Visitors were invited to put themselves in the position of the artist, to examine the articles and make of them what they might, thus mixing their own experiences with whatever Sze left of herself on the table.
Just as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein assembled a new body from parts, Sze gathers fragments of all kinds to produce new totalities. Destruction is a precondition for creation, and Sze captures those moments when the imagination turns wreckage into art.
A version of this story originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of ARTnews on page 94.