Professor Sarah Sze in Solo Show at Guggenheim

Mădălina Telea Borteș
February 22, 2023

From March 31 to September 10, 2023, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will turn its space over to Professor of Visual Arts Sarah Sze for her solo exhibition, Sarah Sze: Timelapse.

Known for her large-scale installations that invoke the vastness of experience via tangible and intangible objects, Sze will draw focus to the many ways in which we mark, pass through, and encounter time in this seminal exhibition.

Work in progress by Sarah Sze, 2022. © Sarah Sze. Photo: Courtesy Sarah Sze Studio

“Like the collective efforts used by humans over centuries to communally mark time, to measure and mark it in physical form—ranging from Jantar Mantar, to the Prime Meridian line, to ubiquitous minarets, clock towers, and animated or astronomical clocks around the world—the museum building will become a site to explore the idea of a public clock, and an experiment in collective timekeeping that all in the city can experience,” Sze told the Guggenheim Museum.

The collective nature of timekeeping and of time as a human experience that Sze seeks to investigate through this exhibition reflects the circumstances in which this exhibition began to take form: the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, when the global populus was thrust into a widespread collective moment in history, yet another mark of time. 

Although Sze has engaged the public in spaces beyond museum and gallery walls, such as her work installed in LaGuardia Airport's Terminal B, Shorter Than the Day (48 feet x 30 feet x 30' feet, 2020)—a spherical chandelier made of powder coated aluminum, steel, and small fractals of sky-scenes—this time around, Sze seeks to expand the art encounter to the plein air communal space. 

As the Museum’s press release explains, “visitors and passersby will first encounter Sarah Sze: Timelapse outside the museum where the presentation spills into the public sphere. At street level an uninterrupted flow of images will trace the contours of the building’s exterior, while a projection on the rotunda’s circular facade will mirror in real time the cycle of the moon over the course of the exhibition.” 

Indoors, visitors will have the opportunity to engage Sze’s multiple forms of artistic inquiry. On the ground floor, Sze’s first video-based work, Untitled (Media Lab, Casino Luxembourg) (1998), will serve as an introductory threshold that gradually opens out into a prismatic immersive environment made of things both quotidian and novel—there are countless objects, mementos, soundscapes, and images rendered via paint, pigment, or pixel. 

“The exhibition will explore Sze’s ongoing reflection on how our experience of time and place is continuously reshaped in relationship to the constant stream of objects, images, and information in today’s digitally and materially saturated world,” the Museum’s press release notes. Yet, the expansion of Sze's sprawling installations even beyond the spaces in which they are contained also marks her interest in how the museum exhibition may translate to viewers; lives beyond the moment of encounter with her work. Sze is concerned with manipulating one’s encounter with time so that it is possible to make sense of it, to recognize how naturally we submit ourselves to it, and, in turn, to hold ourselves accountable to the many choices available to us in regards to how we spend our time. 

Sarah Sze represented the United States at the Venice Biennale in 2013, and was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003. She has exhibited in museums worldwide, and her works are held in the permanent collections of prominent institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Fondation Cartier, Paris; Tate Modern, London; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the Museum of Modern Art, Los Angeles. Sze's work has been featured in the Whitney Biennial (2000), The Carnegie International (1999), and several international Biennials, including Berlin (1998), Guangzhou (2015), Liverpool (2008), Lyon (2009), Sao Paulo (2002), and Venice (1999, 2013, and 2015). Sze has also created public works for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and for the High Line and the Public Art Fund in New York. In 2016, Sze completed a permanent commission for the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority's 96th Street Station of the 2nd Avenue subway line, and in 2015, Phaidon published a monograph on Sze's work as part of the Contemporary Artists Series. Sarah Sze received her BFA from Yale University (1991) and her MFA from the School of Visual Arts (1997). She was born in Boston, Massachusetts and lives and works in New York.