Sarah Sze Slows Fast-Paced Art Consumption at Victoria Miro’s Three London Spaces

How long do you look at a work of art? In an age of fast image consumption, slowing an audience down to engage with details is one of the great skills of American artist Sarah Sze. Her work has an obsessive sense of compositional nuance. Her installation works, print pieces, and smaller sculptures draw attention to the little things. She uses everyday objects to question the makeup of reality itself.

  • Sarah Sze, Installation view, "Stone Series," 2013-2015 at Victoria Miro, Wharf Road. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Sarah Sze. 

This month Victoria Miro has devoted all three of her London spaces to Sze. This is the artist’s first exhibition since she represented the U.S. in the last Venice Biennale. The result is a cross-city project that feels closer to a museum solo exhibition, with five major bodies of work on display. Much of this work was made during a residency at Philadelphia’s Fabric Workshop and Museum and then rearranged.

  • Sarah Sze, Installation view, “Model Series,” 2015, Victoria Miro Mayfair. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Sarah Sze. 

Her works are delicate, poetic, hovering, teetering. The Mayfair space is filled with smaller sculptures, entitled “Model Series,” shrunken versions of her overwhelming installations. The assemblages, made with objects like metal spoons, found sticks, unclasped bracelets, bird nests, drawing pins, and piles of sand, are balanced on cardboard tube plinths. The results feel momentary, filled with elements but also futile. A larger more expected installation in this manner is the opening piece at the Wharf Road space—a deconstructed desk made with ephemera like thin wire cubes, cut-up New York Times covers, and bonsai plants.

  • Sarah Sze, Installation view, “Model Series,” 2015, Victoria Miro Mayfair. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Sarah Sze. 

  • Sarah Sze, Installation view, Still Life with Desk, 2013-2015, at Victoria Miro, Wharf Road. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London © Sarah Sze 

Nature is a strong theme across the works—notably in a strong series of newspaper screenprints. Here, news images have been replaced with colored skies and glittering spacescapes, displayed either in frames on walls or arranged on the floor with similarly colored materials ranging from sand to clay lumps to metal cubes. The tsunami of news is transformed into something else—the ebbs and flows of daily information are made into something more epic or monumental, even if her approach is subtle.

  • Sarah Sze, Installation view, Sarah Sze, "Calendar Series," 2013-2015 at Victoria Miro, Wharf Road. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Sarah Sze. 

  • Sarah Sze, Installation view, "Stone Series," 2013-2015 at Victoria Miro, Wharf Road. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Sarah Sze. 

Nature also emerges in her “Stone Series.” These pieces that approximate paintings are in fact different-colored fabric canvases, each printed with the texture of rocks. The wall pieces are accompanied by sculptures that look like boulders until you realize that most are facsimiles covered with printed rock patterns. Like these boulders, there’s a feeling that Sze is striving for the heroic.

  • Sarah Sze, Installation view, "Stone Series," 2013-2015 at Victoria Miro, Wharf Road. Courtesy the Artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Sarah Sze. 

Francesca Gavin

Sarah Sze is on view at Victoria Miro, London, Jan. 30–Mar. 14, 2015.

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