boston

Su-Mei Tse

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Well before audiences entered the dimly lit room housing Su-Mei Tse’s installation Floating Memories, 2009, they heard the soft crackling of a stylus tripping along the groove of a vinyl record. This subtle auditory encounter evoked a time and place far removed from the environs of the museum—perhaps a setting, at once intimate and domestic, in the predigital era—and paved a conceptual path for the many disjunctions that animate Tse’s work.

While the physical armature of Floating Memories is rather spare, the work is rife with suggestive layers that engage not just personal recollection, as the title indicates, but art-historical precedents and the history of the museum. On the floor, a large wooden platform serves as a frame enclosing a gold carpet made from Chinese silk, whose shimmering hue elicits a Turner sunset or Mark Rothko’s light-infused painterly surfaces. Roughly half the

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