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Sarah Sze presents a series of interrelated installations at the Venice Biennale
Visitors look at Sarah Sze: Triple Point installation at the US pavilion during the press preview of the 55th Venice art biennale on May 29, 2013 in Venice. The Venice art biennale will run from June 1 to November 24, 2013. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS.

VENICE.- Sarah Sze: Triple Point comprises a series of interrelated installations that transform the rooms of the United States Pavilion into a chain of immersive experiences. Extending beyond the confines of the gallery spaces to include the building’s exterior, entrance, and exit, the exhibition directly engages the Neoclassical building designed in 1930 by architects William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich, challenging its Palladian sense of order.

Since the 1990s, artist Sarah Sze (b. 1969) has developed a sculptural aesthetic that transforms space through radical shifts in scale, colonizing overlooked or peripheral spaces, engaging with the fabric and history of a building, and shifting the viewer’s perception and experience of architecture through large-scale, site-specific interventions. Triple Point brings together many of the ideas that Sze has developed during her practice.

“Central to the exhibition is the notion of the “compass” and how we locate ourselves in a perpetually disorienting world." said Sze. "Each of the rooms functions as an experimental site, in which objects attempt to become instruments or assemblages that seek to measure or model our location in time and space. The aspiration to build models that capture complexity—and the impossibility of that undertaking— underscores this body of work.”

“Triple Point is an ambitious site-specific exhibition. It transforms and animates the 1930 Delano & Aldrich building in an extraordinary manner.” said Holly Block, a Co-Commissioner of the U.S. Pavilion, and The Bronx Museum of the Arts’ Executive Director. “The complex and far-reaching themes of the Pavilion have enabled the Bronx Museum to create a large slate of public education and engagement programs that engage with and draw upon Sze’s installations.”

“Sze invites us to enter an unfamiliar cosmos, decipher its interconnectedness, and inscribe a fragile personal order on a disordered universe,” adds Co-Commissioner Carey Lovelace, former Co-President of the International Association of Art Critics, U.S. Chapter. “Navigating Venice as well as traversing the city's circuitous routes, can highlight unexpected experiences: amplifications of light and sound on land and water. This kind of lack of orientation can bring about the potential for the extraordinary. You might say the encounter with Triple Point instigates a recalibration of one’s inner compass.”

In thermodynamics, the term “triple point” designates a singular combination of temperature and pressure at which all three phases of a substance (gas, liquid, and solid) can exist in perfect equilibrium. Triangulation—the measurement of distance from three ordinal points—is also used to specify a unique location in space. Sze’s work references both these ideas— the fragility of equilibrium and the constant desire to create stability and location.

Sze approached the Pavilion as a site of live observation and experimentation: much of the exhibition evolved on-site over a three-month installation period. Parts of the installation were “erased” during this time, becoming, as Sze says, “archaeological remnants or failed experiments.” Traces from the urban landscape of Venice—photographs of stone, architectural materials and tickets from the vaporetto—were collected to serve the growth of these installations. As a result, objects appear to be in flux, with viral growth and impending decay in evidence. Small fragments of the sculptures were also dispersed throughout shops and roofs around the via Garibaldi, to be discovered by chance within the fabric of daily life. The exhibition inhabits the Pavilion and the city—navigating its chambers and streets, burrowing into back rooms, coalescing into systems, and ultimately degenerating into remnants.

In the courtyard, a dynamic teetering structure climbs and descends the exterior of the building. Against one exterior wall of the Pavilion it coalesces to form an exterior space that reveals itself fully only much later in the exhibition. The entrance to the Pavilion has been relocated to a former exit door to the left of the entry rotunda. Once inside, the viewer encounters makeshift structures, some seemingly still under construction, that recall models, machines, and facilities such as a planetarium, observatory, laboratory and pendulum – devices of measurement or locators of the body in space.

Revealed at the end of the exhibition, a garden-like space is framed, almost like a photograph or a painting, by a wall of glass. This window, a 1970s alteration to the building that is often concealed, becomes integral to this piece – the architecture itself becoming a device through which aspects of the installation are reflected and refracted but remain out of reach.

“We are enormously proud to be the lead funder of the United States' exhibition at the Biennale,” said Luis Ubiñas, president of the Ford Foundation. "Diversity in the arts is profoundly important to us at Ford, because the arts express who we are and who we aspire to become. Whether you live in Venice, the Bronx or anywhere in between, artistic expression and discourse are crucial to the full realization of your potential. We will always support the arts as part of our mission to advance human achievement."

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