Sarah Sze’s Worlds of Wonder and Futility

Jackson Arn in The New Yorker:

Go to the Guggenheim Museum. Climb past the gift shops and walls of Gego and Picasso. Awaiting you on the top floor is the niftiest migraine you will ever experience. The artist responsible, Sarah Sze, has contributed a set of site-specific pieces that look like a single shantytown of projectors, plastic bottles, potted plants, paintings, photographs, papers, and pills, to name only a handful of the “P”s. There are thousands of other bits, many of them mass-produced tools doing any job but the one they were made for. Everything is stacked or fanned or strewn, and looks a sneeze away from collapse. Red clamps and blue tape take credit for the hard work done by secret dabs of glue, while other yips of color compete with the gray floors, and lose. Most of the installations are lit by the museum’s glow, and one isn’t lit at all, but for some reason I imagine the entire set in the prickly glare of a conference room.

Clutter is Sze’s medium. She can infuse it with any flavor and play it at any volume. Some of what happens in her work is accidental—“P” is also for “pedestal fans,” which blow through the exhibition, rustling threads and scraps—but even accident is just another one of her ingredients, measured out to the milligram. A team of assistants keeps things in a permanent state of fussy disarray, dropping by thrice a week to adjust threads, refill plastic bottles to make up for evaporation, and so on. The results are less a parody than a triumph of micromanagement: much of the fun in these installations comes from seeing how thin they can stretch, how many different things and ideas and tones they can keep going at once. Images from every land and clime hint at the absurdity of an interconnected planet, as well as the glory. A little circle of rocks, matches, and other stuff reminded me both of Stonehenge and the Stonehenge replica my fifth-grade class built out of blocks and paper-towel rolls.

More here.