Strange But True
Apr 28 2021
Sep 12 2021
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 Noir-inspired investigatory aesthetics, horror cinema, and video game architecture. A topsy-turvy world with outsized objects including projector slides, a plush pencil topper, classified paperwork, and a cantilevered magnifying glass, the installation is mysterious—and situates the viewer as the recipient of an enigmatic letter, tasked with exploring the abandoned, inconclusive research materials on the desk and bulletin board of their disappeared correspondent. 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 truth—in the era of AI-assisted echo chambers and fake news—within 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: Gallery Vacancy, Shanghai (2021); Sophie Tappeiner, Vienna (2019); New Museum, New York (2019); Aldea, Bergen, Norway (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). Upcoming exhibitions include Museum het Valkhof, Nijmegen, Netherlands (2021); Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, Dresden (2021). Shen was a 2019-2020 artist-in-residence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace program. 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 Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, the Booth Ferris Foundation, the Lambent Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and the TD Charitable Foundation.
Image: AI-colorized interpretation of “Autopsy of the First Crocodile Onboard, Upper Egypt”, Ernest Benecke, 1852