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Headless figure sculpting a large clay bust

Shary Boyle: Outside the palace of Me

Thu Feb 04 to May 16, 2021, All Day

Outside the palace of Me is a major exhibition of new work by Canadian visual artist and performer Shary Boyle. Borrowing a line from UK poet Kate Tempest’s 2017 song “Europe Is Lost,” Outside the palace of Me assembles the artist’s ever-mounting anxieties about global crises, within the context of identity theatre. Reflecting on contemporary constructions of self through the language of costume, character, set design, and stage effects, Boyle explores how we see each other, and how we see ourselves.

In our evolving political and cultural reality, the distinction between personal integrity and public persona has become dangerously blurred. We are encouraged by social media to perform our brand for an invisible audience. Yet at the same time, role-playing and self-examination are essential tools to gain perspective on historical relationships. As global responses to racial and economic injustice, colonial violence, gender fluidity, and environmental crisis deepen and divide us, artists ask themselves: what is our responsibility for, and relationship to, dominant narratives? Is identity a fact, or something we shape and define, ever-moving, between us all?

Outside the palace of Me is a multi-sensory installation including drawings, ceramic sculpture, life-sized automatons, two-way mirrors, coin-operated sculpture, and an interactive score. Reimagining the museum as a collective performance space, the artist is working closely with a scenic designer, robotics engineer, amusement park innovator, and costume artist to joyfully envision a set for humanity and imagination.

Boyle mines histories of craft and obsolete technologies to connect our current realities to legacies of the past. Revolving the stage on her uncanny characters and their destabilized audience, she urges viewers to think critically about how we create both ourselves, and the world we inhabit.

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Header image: Shary Boyle, The Sculptor, 2019


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