Sarah Oppenheimer’s installations and public art works “W-120301 x P-010100” were commissioned for the Baltimore Museum of Art’s Contemporary Wing which reopened after its complete renovation in 2012 (built in 1994). The two-part permanent art work was concretely made in conjunction with the architectural space. It involved cutting holes in the museum walls and ceilings of various galleries. The holes, then, were filled with panes of metal and reflective glass to create new dimension for viewing at the space and art on different galleries, including visitors – who happen to be wandering through spaces simultaneously; and are reached by multifaceted and virtually charged viewing. The holes created ‘sightlines’ between the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Contemporary Wing and through the wall between the contemporary and Cone collections. What the installation claim is that the museum visitors can get glimpses and optical illiusions into spaces that are on different levels. Oppenheimer’s works radicalize the notion of museum space from a contemporary virtual perspective. The ’holes in the walls’ change the viewer’s perception when he/she suddenly sees others randomly passing by their visual screen that the artwork is. The unexpected encounters create experiences with others simultaneously in the museum. My own ‘looking-at’ the sightlines makes me perceive someone on the other part of the museum as if they were sharing my experience. Its partially theoretical, and yet is twisting seriously with the architecture. With this installation, we can view art museums from a new perspective, as if this kind of illusory tool enables us to grasp art simultaneously from various historical eras. The sightlines allow viewers to see unexpected views of fellow visitors, art works, and galleries above, below, and across from them.
The Baltimore Museum of Art is the first art museum to commission a site-specific installation by award-winning artist Sarah Oppenheimer. Anyone interested in Oppenheimer’s works would also say that the architectural dimension is much more than ”just” art. In fact, the installation combines art and curiosity borrowed from sciences that are engaged in visitors’ participation. The museum as architectural space and as encounters, interacts with its visitors and the institution’s daily life. The installation does not only play with space and our perception, but it encompasses it on a new level. Museum architectures might sometimes appear as ‘static’ and locked in particular histories. The artist’s intervention of architectural space is a dynamic way to create interaction, encounters, and puzzles, and bring also art history discussions into new levels.