The New York artist on her new London show, her friendship with Zadie Smith and avoiding social media. Interview by Killian Fox
Sarah Sze (pronounced “Zee”) was born in Boston in 1969. She studied painting at New York’s School of Visual Arts but is now known for her sculptures and installations exploring ideas of time and space and the relentless flow of information of the digital age. She was awarded a MacArthur fellowship (AKA the “genius grant”) in 2003 and represented the US at the Venice Biennale in 2013. A professor of visual art at Columbia, Sze lives in New York with her husband, the writer and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee, and their two children. Her new show, Afterimage / Images in Debris, is at the Victoria Miro gallery in London until 28 July.
You use a lot of everyday materials in your work, from milk cartons to potted plants and toilet roll… Are you always on the lookout for suitable objects?
Yes. Images in Debris is very much about the leftovers of an experiment, so, for example, you see a broken egg. But it’s kind of Darwinian: things die out, things stay around, things get added. For this show, I’m interested in the idea that, in some ways, images have replaced objects. Now, for example, people send virtual candles for you to light, like where you’re in a church. Or an artist will say: “I want to make a sculpture, I need something red and soft”, but they see the material online first. So much of what we own materially, we make decisions about digitally, so there’s this interesting kind of confusion.
Image: portrait of Sarah Sze, 2018
Photography: Thierry Bal