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Sarah Oppenheimer


July 8–August 5, 2017

Developed in collaboration with the Ohio State University’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Sarah Oppenheimer’s sculpture S-PT consists of two glass and metal structures anchored by a 45-degree pivot mechanism. The piece’s rectangular shape implies a right-angle pattern of movement, but the rotating axis breaks this expectation. Oppenheimer’s S-PT has an awareness of space and movement, exploring the complexity of perception.

The viewer of the work is, in essence, operating an enormous switch, reorienting the piece and realigning the angle of the light, just as Oppenheimer herself is constantly switching through a complex field of media formats.

-Alexander R. Galloway, Sarah Oppenheimer S-337473, (Columbus: Wexner Center for the Arts, 2017).

Click here to visit Sarah Oppenheimer’s website.



Oppenheimer has long been fascinated by the idea of an architectural switch, defining it as any element that intervenes in or modulates the flow of materials across and through a given space. As she explained in an interview with author Alexander Galloway, “I became interested in switches by looking at a series of threshold and transition spaces that we would generally call doors. This happened at a moment when I needed to contend with…massive, wide-open spaces for museum and gallery shows. I was intrigued by how doors actually work. They don’t simply mark a transition; rather, they create the possibility of a transition by existing in a state of openness or closure. The duality of the state or phase of the door led me to the idea of the switch.”


– Megan Cavanaugh, Sarah Oppenheimer S-337473, (Columbus: Wexner Center for the Arts, 2017).

The apparatuses presented at ‘T’ Space—studies for full architectural-scale artworks—display rotational phenomena of an apparently simple yet actually mystifying kind. We know from the visibly symmetrical set-up—rectilinear slabs mounted on a 45-degree rotating spindle—that we have to do with the purely linear motion of a body. And yet what erupts before our eyes confounds our ability to track the motion as a simple progression or change of degree. What presents itself to our senses is a transformation in kind…

Herein lies the fundamentally musical—mystical, psychotropic—inclination of Oppenheimer’s work: it single-mindedly seeks the thresholds of things. It operates at the front where experience is unstable and easily bifurcates, to be frustrated, confirmed or, as in music, brought into free contact with what is not anticipated in our psychic and perceptual flow. Like music, her work operates through the endlessly surprising disclosure of unseen and unfelt orders of things—anomalies not necessarily in reality but certainly in experience—to teach us that these openings onto enchantment are always proximate and everywhere around us—all one has to do is pierce the veil.


– Sanford Kwinter, 2017

Accompanying Events


Sarah Oppenheimer is an architectural manipulator. She creates apertures and extensions in buildings or walls, modifying familiar spaces with dramatic and disorientating interventions. Oppenheimer’s installations are made with meticulous precision and quality of finish – this contributes to the sense of permanence about her works – they never appear as transient installations but moreover as permanent challenges to our perception of our environment and ourselves within it. Her calculated excisions of prototyped building planes – walls, floors, and ceilings – challenge our understanding of architectural space. Oppenheimer’s work both disorients and clarifies our physical and perceptual experience of the architecture that surrounds us.

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