Sydney Shen
Strange But True

Sydney Shen creates sculptures and environments that commingle historical and contemporary symbols. For her newly commissioned solo exhibition, Strange But True, Shen has developed an immersive installation that brings together tropes of enlightenment-era investigatory aesthetics, horror cinema, and video game architecture. A topsy-turvy world with outsized objects including Polaroids, a plush pencil topper, classified paperwork, and a cantilevered magnifying glass, the installation is mysteriousperhaps a crime scene or a research lab. Blurring the amusing and the sinister, the uncanny manipulation of scale is complemented with Trompe l’oeil and other slippages of perception and failures of representation. The work explores photography in particular and confronts visitors with the notion that documentation and the study of evidence are biased, constructive acts. Shen aims to situate our current crisis of truthin the era of AI-assisted echo chambers and fake newswithin a legacy of fact-seeking and meaning-making practices that have contributed to biased constructions of values and systems of oppression throughout history.

Sydney Shen (b. 1989, Woodbridge, NJ) lives and works in New York. Shen completed her BFA at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York in 2011. In 2010 she studied in the class of Josephine Pryde at Universität der Künste, Berlin. Her work has been exhibited at venues such as: Sophie Tappeiner, Vienna (2019); New Museum, New York (2019);  Aldea, Bergen, Norway (2019); Sibling, Toronto (2019); Invisible Exports, New York (2019); Deitch Projects, New York (2018); American Medium, New York (2018); Motel, Brooklyn (2017); Aike Dellarco, Shanghai (2017); Springsteen, Baltimore (2017); and Interstate Projects, Brooklyn (2016). Shen is co-author of Perfume Area, a book of prose-poetry published by Ambient Press, New York (2015).

This exhibition is organized by Sophia Marisa Lucas, Assistant Curator. 

Sydney Shen is a recipient of the 2019-2020 Queens Museum/Jerome Foundation Fellowship Program for Emerging Artists in New York City,  generously supported by the Jerome Foundation.



Major funding for the Queens Museum is generously provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the Lambent Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, and the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation.

Image: Sydney Shen, concept render for Strange But True, 2021.


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