When artist Sarah Sze recreated her installation The Unaccountables (Encyclopedia) in 2010 at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Nice, France, she incorporated into her work things she was eating and things she found in the hotel. “Improvisation is crucial,” she says in a video just published by Art21 as she is shown clamping a piece of string to a table on which there’s a small potted cactus. “I want the work to be sort of an experience of something live. To have this feeling that it was improvised, that you can see decisions happening on site the way you see a live sports event, the way you hear jazz.”
However ordinary the items are in her meticulously crafted structures—like this one made of metal shelving, string, lamps, medicine bottles, sugar packets and milk cartons—the artist, who will represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale in 2013, never wants you to feel settled. If she’s in a section with things that look like jewelry, “I’ll switch it over,” she says, “to looking like a shoe store and if it looks too much like a shoe store, I’ll make it look like a morgue.” Whatever—it’s just jazz. And it’s kind of mesmerizing.