Preoccupied with human navigation and our relationship to physical space, visual artist Sarah Oppenheimer explores the temporality of architecture, materials and interior space in her innovative installations using conventional construction materials.
Born in Austin, and having studied at Yale University (MFA), Oppenheimer has delivered numerous projects worldwide. Her recent solo exhibitions include Wexner Center for the Arts in Ohio, and in Perez Art Museum in Miami. Exhibited at the Annely Juda Fine Art Gallery in London, her recent works, entitled S-011110 and S-010100 feature beams and column dyads made of glass and steel. Disrupting the architectural context of the gallery, Oppenheimer’s work challenges the way in which we move through space. Oppenheimer worked closely with aerospace engineers at the Ohio State Department to produce her S-01 series. S-011110 and S-010100 use kinetic mechanisms, which allow the steel and glass to rotate, signifying that architecture and materials are in a constant and unpredictable state of flux.
The beams rotate along a 45-degree axis. A pivoting arm inserted into the columns supports a dampened arc, enabling S-011110 to manipulate the otherwise immutable architecture of the building. In the smaller gallery, S-010100 sits within a hollow carved into the partition wall. When viewed from this vantage, a grid of columns and beams are visually compressed into a ‘dynamic aperture,' allowing the viewer to see all elements of the work at once. The rotation of the mechanism and the turning glass demarcates the void within the wall, manipulating the view of the space beyond.
S-011110 and S-010100 are imagined as architectural interventions that divide the gallery both spatially and visually.
“Conceived as switches within architecture’s larger network of immaterial flow, they alter the duration of procession and the direction of vision, ricocheting sightlines across moving glass planes,” the gallery states.
Oppenheimer conceives buildings as living: brought to life by the inhabitants that move through them, reconfiguring and re-contextualising the space over time. The glass and steel structures are also considered alive, and the tactile and reflective nature of the surfaces transform the materials from inanimate to ‘alive’. As Oppenheimer states,
“The beams are sensitive to a visitor’s touch. Contact with their surface animates and alters their position, shifting the division of interior space and the reflected view of the glass surface. The works operate in tandem. Light, sight, and habitation are shaped by the dynamic apparatus of the architectural switch, activated by the visitors’ motion. The interior envelope is a temporal orchestration of coordinates in flux.”
Oppenheimer’s work demonstrates how solid materials like glass and metal can be used to delineate and redefine space given their sensorial properties, which engage and interact with natural agents such as light, space, and man.