Martin Boyce: No Reflections @ DCA
Following the success of his commission for the 2009 Venice Bienale, Martin Boyce’s lyrical installation No Reflections arrives in the comparatively pristine galleries of the DCA.
Away from the fading grandeur of its original 15th century Palazzo setting the work now finds itself available for viewing in a markedly different context. Despite this shift, its evoking of absence and melancholy proves strong enough to last the journey. Much of the show, uprooted and transported, summons the feeling of an abandoned public space, a few crepe paper leaves littering the floor as they flutter in a breeze blown by grills embedded in the gallery walls. They lie scattered around a set of sculptures whose angular forms are presented to us in deliberately distressed wood and steel. In their new habitat this group of objects casts its spell through a distinction between the purity of the archetypal immaculate white cube and the whispered hints of decay around its fringes. The artist has returned to the iconography of the public park, the inherent loneliness of empty benches and steel bins, and the feelings of unease that cling to this neglected furniture.
In the main gallery a pair of huge towering steel partitions divides up the room with slabs of brilliant colour, a vivid red block contrasting with the barbed wire steel bed found nearby and a distressed empty bird house standing backed by a block of bright yellow. Hanging high above, dotted around the galleries’ light fixtures, are sculptures based on concrete trees created in 1925 by Joël and Jan Martel, their forms now inverted to become ‘geometric chandeliers’, what the artist refers to as ‘a collapse of architecture and nature’. The objects in these rooms wind up conjuring a dream half-life, an invocation of sadness in the abandoning of the future.