Airport, please! Sarah Sze: Night into Day reopens at the Fondation Cartier in Paris
As an artist, I think about the effort, desire, and continual longing we’ve had over the years to make meaning of the world around us through materials. And to try and locate a kind of wonder, but also a kind of futility that lies in that very fragile pursuit.
In 1994, after ten years in the town of Jouy-en-Josas near Versailles, the Fondation Cartier moved into the airy glass and steel building in central Paris designed especially by Jean Nouvel, who is also the creator of the Institut du Monde Arabe and the Musée du Quai Branly buildings. Famous in France and internationally for his unique way of dematerializing architecture, his challenge for Cartier was to harmoniously bring together 12,000 square feet of exhibition space and six stories of offices on the boulevard Raspail.
For her second solo exhibition at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, internationally renowned artist Sarah Sze presents a fully immersive installation that transforms the visitor’s experience of Jean Nouvel’s glass building. The exhibit had to close due to the pandemic but is reopening on May 19th. A genius of architecture, Jean Nouvel, has created the perfect aesthetic environment for the genius of Sarah Sze’s installations.
Sarah Sze, who represented the United States at the 2013 Venice Biennale, presents two immersive installations in the gallery spaces of Jean Nouvel’s iconic building. Commissioned by the Fondation Cartier, her new works explore how the proliferation of images—printed in magazines, gleaned from the Web, intercepted from outer space—fundamentally changes our relation to physical objects, memories, and time. The works also engages with the materiality and history of Nouvel’s structure and its surrounding garden. Enveloping the architecture, these sculptures will alter the visitor’s sense of gravity, scale, and time, confusing the boundaries between inside and outside, mirage and reality, past and present.
Twice Twilight and Tracing Fallen Sky, created specifically for this exhibition, are the latest works from Sze’s Timekeeper series, begun in 2015. This series investigates the image and the increasing overlaps in our experience of the virtual and material worlds. The planetarium and the pendulum, age-old scientific tools designed to map the cosmos and trace the earth’s rotation, inspire the structure of these sculptures. Sze has long been interested in scientific models as tools to measure time and space and to explain the natural world.
With dramatic shifts in scale—from the vast trajectory of the sun, to the minute action of lighting a match—the artist conveys the mystery and complexity inherent in our constant attempts to measure and model time and space. In contemplating the essence of these concepts, Sze reveals both the wonder and the futility behind our efforts to understand what will always remain just beyond our grasp.
SARAH SZE: TIMEKEEPER SERIES
For over 20 years, Sarah Sze has produced celebrated works of art, synthesizing a near boundless range of everyday materials into intricate constructions that are both delicate and overwhelming. Sze’s monumental site-specific installation Timekeeper, originally presented at the Rose Art Museum and now in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum, combines sculpture, video and installation into a sprawling experiential work that approaches some of the most complex themes of her career: time’s passage and its marking in mechanical and biological forms. Iterations of the work have also been exhibited at the Copenhagen Contemporary Museum in Denmark, The High Museum of Art in Atlanta.
The Timekeeper installation was a catalyst for a book which explores major new ideas in Sze’s work and practice. This ambitious work is extensively documented here alongside significant new texts by noted scholars on Sze and the themes that inform—and are informed by—her art, including the experience of time. In addition to the scholarly texts and abundant photographs of the work, the Timekeeper catalogue includes a section designed by Sze that function as a flip book to demonstrate the movement of time.
Sarah Sze was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1969. 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.
Often incorporating electric lights and fans, water systems, and houseplants, Sze’s installations balance whimsy with ecological themes of interconnectivity and sustainability. Whether adapting to a venue or altering the urban fabric, Sze’s patchwork compositions seem to mirror the improvisational quality of cities, labor, and everyday life. On the edge between life and art, her work is alive with a mutable quality—as if anything could happen, or not.
Sarah Sze received a BA from Yale University (1991) and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts (1997). She has received many awards, including a Radcliffe Institute Fellowship (2005); John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2003); Louis Comfort Tiffany Award (1999); and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation Award (1997).
Major exhibitions of her work have appeared at the Asia Society Museum, New York (2011); 10th Biennale de Lyon (2010); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art (2009); Malmö Konsthall (2006); Whitney Museum of Amerian Art (2003); Walker Art Center (2002); São Paulo Bienal (2002); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1999), and Foundation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (1999), the Carnegie International (1999), and the 48th Venice Biennale (1999). Sarah Sze lives and works in New York City.
2013 VENICE BIENNALE
Her works manipulate the space, be it a gallery, domestic interior or public space. In 2013, she represented the United States of America at the 55th International Art Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia in Venice, Italy. Her exhibition Triple Point featured installations inside and outside the Pavilion building. Much of Sarah Sze’s solo show evolved on-site over a three-month installation period. For Triple Point, the artist used elements from the urban landscape of Venice such as photographs of stone, leaves from the Giardini, tickets from the Vaporetto.
In many ways, the work of Sarah Sze is, to the LRFA blog, an important predecessor of the new NFT cryptoart that is commanding so much attention.