Sarah Sze and Hennesy Youngman
On a recent visit to the National Gallery in Ottawa I was happy to come across a large installation by New York based artist Sarah Sze. The work, Untitled (Portable Planetarium), was originally produced for the 2009 Lyon Biennale but currently resides in the contemporary art wing of the National Gallery.
Composed of an incredible variety of materials, many of them familiar household items, the piece sits like an immense exploded sphere in one corner of the room. (During my visit I overheard someone refer to it as the ultimate hamster ball!) True to its name, the installation replicates the many parts of a planetarium: Overhead projectors covered in perforated tinfoil fill the room with thousands of tiny twinkling stars, colour postcards fill in for the mountains and forests, and bottles of water stand in place of the oceans and rain. Only by moving around the piece can the incredible density of objects truly be appreciated, as new layers and depths reveal themselves.
Sarah Sze is an artist whom I have heard and read about for several years now, but whose work really shows up the limits in learning about art through images in books or online. An image cannot capture the sense of discovery one feels when moving around and through an artwork as multi-layered as this.
If you do want to learn about art online the most entertaining place to visit is the Hennesy Youngman Channel on Youtube. His series of Art Thoughts on topics such as How to be a successful Artist, Joseph Beuys, and Relational Aesthetics debunk a lot of the seriousness around these topics. His most recent post on The Female Gaze due to its NSFW content, but it can be found on Vimeo and it’s worth doing a search for.