Sara VanDerBeek, Medusa, 2007. Chromogenic color print, 40 × 30 inches (101.6 × 76.2 cm). Anonymous gift. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures. © Sara VanDerBeek
Sara VanDerBeek investigates the representation of three-dimensional sculpture through the two-dimensional lens of photography. She painstakingly builds sculptures in order to photograph them, disassembling the objects as soon as the documentation is complete. The sculptures thus quickly come to exist only as images. This process inserts VanDerBeek into ongoing debates about what is gained and lost when viewers experience sculpture through photographic images, and the play between the three-dimensionality of one medium versus the two-dimensionality of another.
Medusa is a photograph of an assemblage VanDerBeek created in her studio. The temporary sculpture is a totem of images of historical sculptures, ranging from classical statuary and friezes to a work by the turn-of-the-century Italian artist Medardo Rosso. At the bottom of the objects is a piece of contemporary jewelry. One key element is a red-tinted photograph of Medusa, a figure from Greek mythology who turns humans into stone with her gaze, a process that can be analogized with photography, especially photography of classical sculpture. The work registers VanDerBeek’s engagement with art-historical references and contemporary modes of image making.
The ICA/Boston has strong holdings in photography and sculpture, and VanDerBeek’s Medusa brings these two strengths together while adding a new artist to those represented in the growing collection.