Sarah Sze, Untitled (Studio Installation), 1997, mixed media, dimensions variable. All images courtesy Marianne Boesky Gallery.
Sarah Sze pulled back the skin of a wall at PS1 and ripped out its guts. She created a pulsing, dripping universe precariously holding onto life like a dissected frog. If one tiny piece, a pin or pill, were to be removed; if a membrane were to be touched, everything could short circuit, explode, flood or crash. It’s a Lilliputian ecosystem presided over by a Tinguely-like God.
Beyond the theatrical appeal, Sze’s installations possess a strong pictoriality. Three dimensional, they nonetheless engage the painter’s battle with surface and unyielding flatness and embrace the resulting conflict with its surrounding architecture. Sze literally breaks into the space and creates linearity with electrical wires and garden hose then makes the transition to geometric shapes using bricks and an aquarium, getting the push-pull and flow (literally) going. To top it off she articulates the piece with tiny labels, pins, pills, and Q-tips, like a painter pulling up the surface tension with highlights and details.
Sze has created a beautifully articulated mess. With a breath it could collapse.