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part of a three-dimensional wire coliseum at chipmunk or coming to terms with them another way, pictorially.

way, pictorially. them hazy, like starlets in thirties movies. The ephemerality
scale, just over waist high. It has a lot of little paper and I ask how she relates to the visual grammar of each of of you taking that little picture of this thing that’s existed five
plastic screens for catching dozens of miniature and these differently—the oil painting, the sketch, the digital hundred years before you and will exist long after you’re gone—
perfectly torqued videos. Often the projection is slightly photograph. I understand each of these different media as tools that is the gesture, Sze says. The acknowledgement. It’s sad. It’s a

Sarah Sze larger than the screen and makes a glowing frame on the
wall behind. She cups her hand in front of the projector’s
for understanding the others, she says. There is a kind of speed
with which we experience images today that creates a kind of
conversation we have with ourselves about time, and increasingly
we’re having it with images. Every time we use our phone that

Paints a Picture beam to show me all the little separate videos it carries, like
a handful of wiggling pearls. These are signature dynamics
melancholia. Every artist I know, if I ask them what they did that
day, they will flip through a dozen iPhone photographs to show
way, that’s partly what we’re doing.
But, I say, for me it’s important that it’s not a digital
of Sze’s sculpture, where the exactly placed objects become you. Every exhibition I go to I take digital photographs. I probably image and it’s not on my phone. The point of the Polaroid
by Jarrett Earnest forms in space, made mostly of absence, manipulating won’t ever look at them again, but that act is very much how we is that it’s a little object. Paintings are also objects. The
light and shadow into an environment, so that what is and live our lives in this moment. “image” of a painting lives in the material object of the
is not the “sculpture” is impossible to distinguish. Analysing that one little tableau within the broader painting, and both have their own parallel lives in the
We end up back where we started, in the room papered panorama of the room shows how the composition world. The painting will stay the same, has stayed the same,
The walls in Sarah Sze’s studio are covered by hundreds with hundreds of torn printed images… And it hits works. These digital ink-jet prints on matte paper have a for centuries, but the next time I’m in Florence, I’ll be
of images torn roughly into rectangles. Some are pictures me—This is the new work! I laugh, I didn’t realise these are the slight fuzz around every form; no line is crisp. Similarly, different and so it will be a different painting for me. I
of people or landscapes or her earlier work, others read “paintings”. She laughs too. I marvel at her grace, that she the way she pulls paint across dry linen creates a raspy think about the recurring image of Sze’s daughter sleeping,
only as colour and texture. Overlapping in clusters, they’re didn’t just say, you already are, when I asked to see the work edge. It makes you conscious of the pronounced weave and of the falcon suspended in mid-air, and the milk drop
taped and pinned along with sketches, tickets, letters, earlier. She allowed me the space to see it—a major aspect of the linen, as the foundation of the image, which exploding into a coronet on a table. In their stillness and
Xeroxes, peeled paint—the way deranged conspiracy of her sensibility. These flat works—which encompass uncannily recalls the micro-grid of digital pixelation, repetition, her “flats” speak more to the human experience
theorists’ apartments look in movies, stretching lengths everything on the wall—look more provisional and almost subliminally. The boundaries between everything of time than the “time-based media” in her sculptural
of yarn to connect one piece of “evidence” to another. I rougher than her sculptures, and that is saying something. are charged. The pale blue paint visually slides into the installations, where video loops create shivering stasis.
assume it’s planning for one of her famously elaborate They’re without the patina of tinkering that accompanies falcon’s sky below it, though in person the difference We discuss the specific language of technical images,
installations, where precarious arrangements of detritus her more elaborate spatial constructions. Because they between printed ink and oil paint, as vehicles for colour, how contemporary the downloaded ink-jet prints look,
subtly reshape large architectural spaces, with strings, creep along the walls they might make you conscious of surface and pictorial information, are more pronounced even of a Muybridge photograph. They have the quality
wire, paper, projections, reflections, and shadows. This the shape of the room, but are otherwise without her than their similarities. of being downloaded, and we know that that looks right
transformation of ephemera into sculptural form has made hallmark engagement with three dimensions. They have Every element is recursive, engaged in a layered call now, she says. We have a very heightened sense of reading
her one of the most important forces in contemporary art. the extremely shallow frieze-like depth of collaged paper. and response, between form, materiality, and meaning. imagery in that way. She’s right: Our way of seeing and
I’m there to see Sze’s new paintings? Maybe they’re I just wasn’t prepared to read it as a “painting”. Well, maybe Several of the images are important moments in the history representing reality is deeply historical in ways we
called Flats?—the language hasn’t been set. She tells me they’re not paintings, she says. of technical images’ relationship with time. In one mini- can’t fully understand as we’re living it, and what Sze’s
that she started as a painter, studying academically before I notice something I didn’t really before: In one area tableau you see a print-out of Muybridge’s stop-motion done in these new works is so wholly of our moment—
changing to sculpture, and that she’s been painting on the there is a small painting, about nine by twelve inches, cat running (1887) butted against Harold Edgerton’s visually, intellectually, emotionally—that it won’t be fully
side, all along. She says she’s always thought of herself as nestled among photographs on the wall, fully integrated famous photograph of a splashing milk drop (c.1935) legible for at least a generation. A time capsule of our
a painter making sculptures. Recently she’s started taking into the accumulated images around it. A kind of drawing taped upside down. Just above it is a painting, from an relationship to images in the early twenty-first century. It
these paintings more seriously and is excited to show in pale blue paint on tan raw linen, marking out the iPhone photograph, of the artist’s daughter sleeping. must mean something that one of the greatest sculptural
them. After half an hour I buoyantly suggest we actually skeletal planes of an invisible sphere. It’s based on her It’s lightly splattered with grey paint, making a funny minds of our time has reverted to images—the materiality
go look at them; she takes a beat and smiles. Sure. installation “Centrifuge” (2017) at Haus der Kunst in rhyme with the milk below. I ask if this melancholy is of images as printed and painted objects—as a way of
We walk into another room with some earlier Munich. The underlying architecture of the room is personal or cultural—I hope it’s both, she says. Each image coming to terms with life today.
sculptures. One is a hammock made of blue strings held signalled by reddish underpainting with white shapes and object has been cycled through many processes: a I walk around her studio taking Polaroids of a few
parallel by two rods, naturally drooping in an arc towards that suggest arched windows or doors. On the upper left photograph of a sculpture turns into a painting which is areas. It lets me appreciate the multivalence of her
the centre. The individual lines are sparsely and tenderly is pinned a scrap of a printed picture, a gradient of dark then photographed, ripped up, sketched on top of, re- compositions—the formal and structural webbing that
connected by thin blobs of paint, suspending orange, blue, to light grey. A white line of semi-autonomous paint, like photographed, painted on again, and pinned to the wall. moves from one part of the installation to the next,
yellow, green and purple brushstrokes over a concave void. a jagged zip lifted from a Barnett Newman, is collaged Its ending up there doesn’t feel final either, just where it connecting one far corner of the room with its opposite,
Some of the paint is scattered like petals on the ground on top. The slight dimensionality of the stretcher casts happened to be in at this moment, in this arrangement. by the window, through a reappearing image, colour,
below. It reminds me of how Sze has been using paint a shadow on the papers it overlaps—downloaded digital I tell her it reminds me of something I was doing a few shape or texture. I’m thinking about how this installation
in recent installations, as though a stroke were made on photos of “Centrifuge”, a falcon in mid-flight against an weeks ago visiting the Uffizi in Florence. I found myself looks here, in her studio, in the afternoon light, and how
plastic and peeled off, then draped onto an object so that empty sky, and a cryptic black circle on a grey ground, like taking Polaroids of some paintings there. It seemed like a different it will be installed at Victoria Miro in London.
it curves in space. Paint as coloured matter, like pinned a dissolving eclipse. I make paintings like that one after the really stupid thing to do. I had to take them with the flash How it will never be exactly like this ever again. And how it
and mounted butterflies. In a different room there is a installations are done, Sze says. It’s like a way of processing them, off, and the low light caused a shutter delay that made makes you aware of that, over and over.

cover Afterimage, Silver (detail), 2018


Acrylic paint, ink, mono-type on archival paper
Sarah Sze: Afterimage · 8 June – 28 July 2018 56 x 43.5 cm, 22 1/8 x 17 1/8 in
Victoria Miro · 16 Wharf Road · London N1 7RW Edition of 12 plus 5 artist’s proofs Jarrett Earnest is an artist and writer living in New York City.