Sarah Oppenheimer: N-01
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On 31 May 2020 an artist talk with Sarah Oppenheimer, Soyoung Yoon and Helen Hirsch took place via zoom:
In close engagement with the building structures of Kunstmuseum Thun, American artist Sarah Oppenheimer (*1972) has developed a network of architectural instruments. Resembling building details such as windows, doors, and columns, each instrument is manually activated by a visitor’s tactile engagement. Turning a door, pushing a window, or pulling a column will transform the dimension and position of multiple thresholds in adjacent rooms. Museum visitors and the architectural instruments participate in a joint performance, resequencing the time-based choreographies of exhibition space.
«N-01 proposes a new network. Architectural instruments are inserted between the Kunstmuseum’s many rooms. Performing as doors, windows, columns and beams, each instrument creates a chain reaction: a pivoting door slides a wall; a rotating column opens a window. Visitors manipulate the instruments’ input to create distal changes in output, thereby modifying the architectural envelope of adjacent galleries.
In the central gallery, a glass and aluminum volume, seemingly supported above and below by two opaque white walls, divides the room. Manual rotation of the glass pivots its volume around an off-center axis, shifting the alignment between the rotating volume and the supporting opaque wall. This rotation drives linear movement in the surrounding wall surface. As the glass volume is turned 180 degrees around an eccentric center point, the supporting walls slide in and out of alignment.»
«In an adjacent gallery, turning a door handle pivots a wall in the darkened room, revealing large facade windows overlooking the Aare. The space is suffused with daylight, altering the brightness of surrounding galleries. Changes in relative luminosity affect the transparency of glass instruments in nearby rooms. The volume in gallery 9, previously transparent, becomes reflective. Sightlines ricochet across the glazed surface, through the façade windows to the landscape beyond.
As walls retract and windows open, each instrument’s mechanical infrastructure is periodically revealed. The helical screw driving the instruments’ spatial and temporal trajectory becomes intermittently visible. Never fully opaque nor entirely transparent, N-01’s systemic logic is periodically legible. The network’s partial transparency embeds an active viewer within the interwoven relays of inhabited space.»
Sarah Oppenheimer was born in 1972 in Austin, Texas. She lives and works in New York City. Her recent projects include solo exhibitions at the Drawing Center, New York, NY; Kunsthaus Baselland; MUDAM Luxembourg; the Pérez Art Museum Miami; the Wexner Center for the Arts, and Mass MoCA, North Adams. Permanent installations of her work can be found at the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Mattress Factory. Her works are additionally in the permanent collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; MUDAM Luxembourg; and the Pérez Art Museum Miami. Oppenheimer is a Senior Critic at Yale University School of Art.
Text: Sarah Oppenheimer, January 2020, Kunstmuseum Thun.
A catalogue (DE/EN) accompanying the exhibition will be published. The date of the book launch and conversation with the artist will be communicated asap.