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Sarah Sze

Strange Attractor



Sarah Sze (1969-)


Strange Attractor




Mixed media


Dimensions variable

Credit line

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Gift of Marianne Boesky, Ed Cohen and Adam Sender

Accession number


Object Label

Sarah Sze’s Strange Attractor was originally commissioned for the monumental fourth-floor window of the Whitney as part of the Museum’s 2000 Biennial exhibition. The work could be seen in two ways: by walking around it in the gallery space, and by looking at it from street level, 75 feet below. Like many of Sze’s site-specific installations, Strange Attractor transforms the miscellany of everyday life into an idiosyncratic ecosystem or model universe, with every object dependent on each other. It constellates thousands of common items—all purchased in the neighborhood around the Whitney—including balsa wood, aspirin tablets, mirrors, plastic spoons, tickets, artificial plants, and a twisting conglomeration of ladders. Small fans cause bits of paper to flutter, an air humidifier creates a constant cloud of steam, and a set of clear plastic tubing circulates water throughout the massive work, adding a delicate motion and dynamism. In the midst of frantic chaos, seemingly spiraling in every direction, Sze creates a sensation of unity and balance.