Artist Sarah Sze's delicate towers question the nature of sculpture

Steve Dinneen
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Sarah Sze, Triple Point (Planetarium), 2013; Wood, steel, plastic, stone, string, fans, overhead projectors, photograph of rock printed on Tyvek; Installation view at the United States Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2013, © Sarah Sze

"When I think about sculpture, I’m thinking as much about the dispersal of objects as the agglomeration of objects, about the absence of form as much as the presence, about the decay of material as much as the construction of material.”

This is a suitably elusive description by Sarah Sze of her large-scale installation pieces, which combine the beautiful with the mundane, the natural with the technological, the tiny with the vast. Her work varies dramatically in its composition and use of materials, and yet is instantly recognisable as her own, from towering stacks of interconnected ladders dotted with sprouts of greenery to geometrically stacked books or newspapers. They are all impossibly intricate, appearing to unfold in a kind of artistic stream of consciousness with little regard for what has come before.

“I choreograph the experience to create an ebb and flow of information”, she says. “I’m thinking about how people approach, slow down, stop, perceive. It’s something I’ve always loved about the cubists, the Russian constructivists and the futurists: their attempts to depict the speed and intensity of the moment and the impossibility of its stillness.”

This chain of thought is particularly apparent in her Triple Point (Planetarium) work for the Venice Biennale (pictured), which has the appearance of a huge, interconnected machine, with echoes of Alexander Calder’s mobiles and of childhood science experiments. Made up of materials including tools, lamps and paint pots, it hints at practicality and scientific rigour that its form can never deliver. This work and many more are discussed in an upcoming book, Sarah Sze, published later this month.

Sarah Sze by Benjamin HD Buchloh et al, is published by Phaidon priced£29.95,