At ArtPace, Sauter has pared down his palette of materials, choosing to use the gallery’s architecture as the material for his project. From the gallery’s sheet-rocked walls, he has carved individual pieces that he uses to construct a replica of an iconic dining room. Upon entering the gallery, the viewer walks through a wall that has been torn up, leaving studs and building materials exposed. Scars on the gallery’s walls illustrate the artist’s process. While at first glance the forms look like hieroglyphics, upon examination one realizes that they are actually parts of a whole—the leg of a dining chair, a table top, a china hutch. The dining room is self-contained, with its own floor and walls. Monochromatic and minimal, the installation has a ghost-like feel.
Taking a more refined cue from Gordon Matta-Clark’s aggressive interventions with architecture, Sauter’s installation takes on both social and material issues. His approach to making space out of an existing space goes beyond a simple recycling of materials. Like Rachel Whiteread’s casts of interior spaces, Sauter effectively examines the psychology of the institutional site and the domestic environment.
The dining room is a site ripe for exploration: it is the space where communication and nourishment are developed, generally within the framework of the nuclear family. It is a space for presentation and performance—a public space where rituals are observed, stories are exchanged and culture and history are shared between generations. This space for social interaction becomes a microcosm for the world outside the dining room walls. The impact of the social on our personal experience becomes a key ingredient in digesting Sauter’s installation: How much of our personal environment is carved from our social space?