The Bronx Museum of the Arts has just announced that New York-based sculptor and installation artist Sarah Sze will represent the United States at the 2013 Venice Biennale. She was selected for the coveted commission by Bronx Museum executive director Holly Block and independent curator Carey Lovelace.
Titled "Triple Point," Sze's installation will engage the architecture of William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich's 1930s pavilion in the Giardini, modifying and distorting it without actually changing it in any way, in the museum's description. Sze will craft complex and delicate installations from her trademark accumulations of everyday materials, discarded objects and kinetic devices like electrical fans. In an Web-savvy twist appropriate for this most global of shows, an online component will allow users to live-stream video of the commission's fabrication and installation.
Sze's art-world cred is iron clad. The Boston-born, Chinese-American artist graduated summa cum laude from Yale in 1991, and then went on to get her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Only two years after graduating from art school in 1997, she won a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, and then received a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 2003. For much of her career Sze has been enthusiastically embraced by museums. Among other projects, she created an on-site sculpture with found materials over the course of 10 days at the MCA Chicago, built a labyrinth of plastic tubes for the Whitney Museum, and, most recently, showcased her drawings at the Asia Society in New York. (That show, "Infinite Line," remains on view through March 25.)
Nor is this the first biennial for Sze, who is represented by Tanya Bondakar in New York and Victoria Miro Gallery in London — though it is certainly her most high profile. She has shown previously at the Berlin Biennial, the Sao Paolo Biennale, the Liverpool Biennial, and the Lyon Biennale. The artist, who lives and works in Brooklyn, has also produced a number of public artworks in her own backyard. She contributed a much-loved sculpture — a kind of futuristic bird feeder — to New York's High Line Park, and will create the public art for the forthcoming 96th Street 2nd Avenue Subway station in New York.
"Sze’s project for the U.S. Pavilion will create opportunities for public engagement and exchange both at a local level in Venice and at home in the United States," writes Block, "connecting directly to the community-oriented mission of the Bronx Museum."
"Sze’s boundary-defying work engages architecture and space," Lovelace adds in the press release, "challenging the viewer by reorganizing reference points, disorienting and reorienting at every turn... Her ephemeral installations strike a balance between spectacle and poetry."
Sze's delicate and seemingly weightless sculptural installations of found objects mark a sharp contrast to the brash exhibition by artist duo Allora & Calzadilla, who represented the U.S. in 2011 and stationed an upside down tank outside the U.S. Pavilion. The Allora & Calzadilla pavilion was widely criticized as bombastic, and the selection of the more classically minded Sze seems to mark a turn in a safer direction.
To see video of Sze talking about her work, click here.