Martin Boyce: IT'S OVER AND OVER: Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
"But this passage has neither entrance nor exit..."
-Haruki Murakami, Wind Up Bird Chronicle
Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is delighted to present
an exhibition of new work by Martin Boyce and the artist's third solo show with the gallery. Through a series of architectural interventions -- free-standing windows and hanging lanterns -- Boyce transforms the ground-floor space into an immersive and dream-like landscape. Populated by sculptures that simultaneously reference and redefine the legacy of modernist forms, the eerie environment that Boyce creates collapses the distinctions between past, present, and future. Like Murakami's paradoxical passageway, with neither entry nor exit, Boyce's works seem to exist in their own autonomous world, untethered to any fixed time or place.
At the entry to the gallery, Boyce presents a series of photos, titled Projectile Sun. The five images that compose the work track an orb of light defined by the circular window of an airplane as it moves across the bulkhead. The abstract photos resemble the sun itself as it rises and falls in the sky, but are disorienting -- the sun in these images does not establish a sense of location, but instead conveys a feeling of "placeless-ness" that continues in the main gallery.
Just beyond the photos, a doorway leads into a darkened space that houses Boyce's imagined terrain. Suspended from various heights on a single chain, a constellation of colorful lanterns made from perforated steel glows warmly in the otherwise un-illuminated space. The material and form of the lamps conjure up the outdoor space of an illuminated terrace or courtyard, and as sculptures they point away from themselves to activate the floor below.
Much of Boyce's work engages with thresholds and transformation. With the sculpture Against the Night, which takes a 1951 Jean Prouvé library table as its form, the distinction between interior and exterior dissolves. The table appears to have been abandoned and battered by the elements; its tabletop is now a broken piece of shuttering ply and steel lanterns like those hanging from the ceiling replace the original built-in light fixture. In another table work, a grill is set into the concrete surface acting somewhere between a drain and a window. Above the table a mobile is suspended. Constructed from brass L-section and chain, the sculpture collapses the distance between the natural form of a weeping willow branch and the constructed world of its constituent parts. Both sculptures recombine references to modernist forms in unexpected ways to create a poetic synthesis.
The lyrical and poetic nature of Boyce's work is apparent throughout the exhibition, but especially clear in a single wall-work. A large panel that appears to be a boarded up window set into a section of cast concrete contains the word "Eclipse" spelled out in the artists own tumbling typography. The letters that appear in the work get their angular shapes from the silhouette of a concrete tree designed in the 1920s by Jan and Joel Martel that has been of central importance to Boyce's practice for the past eight years.
All installation images above: Photo by Jean Vong