Sarah Oppenheimer creates precise instruments for manipulating our built environment–altering our frame of spatial reference, displacing our experience of inside and out, and inverting our sense of what is near and far, here and there.
S-334473 performs as a dynamic spatial switch: two instruments work in tandem to reorient the exchange of sight and circulation within Building 6. A visitor’s touch sets the work in motion, pivoting volumes of glass and metal along a 45-degree axis through a defined arc. When vertically oriented, each instrument nestles between the buildings’ historic columns. Once rotated, the volumes slip out of alignment and become horizontal reflecting screens. The arcing movement from vertical column to horizontal lintel creates unexpected thresholds and pathways. While manipulating the instruments’ contours and orientation, visitors walk beneath and around their outermost edges. Sightlines are redirected through the building’s interior spaces, towards the north-facing windows and onto the Hoosic River and mountains beyond.
The rotational axis of the instruments extends through the ceiling onto the floor above, where the mechanical infrastructure that sets the work in motion is revealed to visitors. The arc of each switch is visible, creating an index of the instrument’s position below.
Oppenheimer’s S-334473 mobilizes the museum’s architecture in order to transform and extend the visitor’s understanding of the exhibition spaces it reveals, and disrupts. In the process, artwork and viewer become joined in an intricate choreography of the inhabited environment.
About the Artist
Sarah Oppenheimer (b. 1972 in Austin, TX) received a BA from Brown University in 1995 and an MFA from Yale University in 1999. Recent solo projects include S-281913 (Pérez Art Museum Miami 2016), S-334473 (Wexner Center for the Arts 2017), S-399390 (Mudam, Luxembourg 2016), 33-D (Kunsthaus Baselland 2014) and W-120301, an architecturally embedded permanent commission at the Baltimore Museum of Art (2012). Her work has been exhibited at such venues as the Andy Warhol Museum (2012); the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (2009); Art Unlimited, Art Basel (2009); Skulpturens Hus (Stockholm); the Saint Louis Art Museum; the Mattress Factory; the Drawing Center; and the Sculpture Center. She is the recipient of a Rome Prize Fellowship (2011–12), a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Fellowship (2009), and a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship (2007). Ms. Oppenheimer is currently a senior critic at the Yale University School of Art.