Sarah Sze at the historic Crypta Balbi museum

Gagosian and Museo Nazionale Romano are pleased to present Sarah Sze’s sculpture Split Stone (7:34) (2018) at the historic Crypta Balbi museum, concurrent with her exhibition at Gagosian.
In the exhibition, Sze juxtaposes paintings with a video installation to underscore and amplify the materiality of digital images, revealing that each picture—whether printed, projected, or painted—is made up of particles of ink and light, which migrate from screen to canvas to architecture and back again. In Split Stone (7:34), she takes the reverse approach by embedding a digital image of a sunset in a granite boulder, while noting in the work’s title the exact time at which she captured the fleeting moment on her iPhone.
Opened like a natural geode, Split Stone (7:34) appears amid the poetically charged ruins of the Crypta Balbi. An evening sky appears embedded in its cut surface, alluding to the timelessness of gongshi (scholar’s rocks) and the heavenly firmaments of Renaissance paintings. To apply the sunset images to the stone, thousands of tiny cavities inscribed into the smooth granite are filled with colored pigment, thus translating the techniques of lithography and dot-matrix printing into detailed handwork.
Split Stone (7:34) is the first in a series of outdoor stone sculptures in which Sze treats landscape as medium, image, and site. Resonating with the archeological layers of Rome since antiquity that are present and visible in the Crypta Balbi, Split Stone (7:34) suggests a sublime aura contained within the solid rock. Just as images are composed of paint smears, ink dots, or illuminated pixels, ruins consist of fragments of rock, brick, and mortar that slowly crumble away, leaving only the suggestion of a former structure. Thus, by imbuing an image as banal as a sunset with a sense of gravity and physical time, Sze conflates the pathos of the ruin with the frenetic image culture of today.
Sze’s exhibition remains on view through January 12, 2019, at Gagosian, Via Francesco Crispi 16.