Sarah Sze, Stripped, 2010. Bikes, metal, paint, cloth, tape, and decals, 33 x 45 x 77 in.

Sarah Sze

New York

Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

The profligate daughter, stylistically speaking, of Jessica Stockholder, Sarah Sze brilliantly but sometimes overwhelmingly delivers on her enthusiasm for arranging things. The sheer amount of stuff in her sculptures invites all sorts of mental activities—categorizing, counting, and connecting chief among them. Constructed from the accumulated, often marginal objects of industry and everyday life, Sze’s work enables us to participate in a spectacle whose interest lies equally in the macrocosm, or overall plan, and the microcosm, seen in the thousands of individual parts that make up her extravagant compositions. The title of a major recent work, The Uncountables (Encyclopedia) (2010), exactly communicates the reality of uncountable numbers. The colored plastic bottles, milk cartons, lights attached to wooden shelving, and stacks of small objects were beyond numbering. Such complexity is of a high order, but it also touches the possibility of compositional anarchy.

The viewer could only marvel at the range of materials used, as well as their aura of rationality—an inspired organization to The Uncountables (Encyclopedia) yielded all sorts of close-up delight in the placement of disparate elements, often but not always, arranged according to color. As an environment, the work had the fantastic, gimmicky air of a Rube Goldberg machine, albeit one of high culture whose purpose is forever obscured. While the components of these installations always seem stable in their positioning, Sze plays with the possibility that the entire composition may simply decide to fall apart. On some level, The Uncountables (Encyclopedia) could serve as a replica of the imagination, demonstrating the amount of trivial material contained in our thoughts. But it went further, boggling the mind, sometimes swamping our ability to pay close attention. Meant to be studied as one would approach any complex system, Sze’s work presents a spectacle that parodies our commodity culture and yet belongs to it, a duality that celebrates our dubious need to reify our world…see the entire review in the print version of September’s magazine.