Martin Boyce ‘No Reflections’

Martin Boyce, A River in the Trees, 2009, Cement fondue, plywood, paraffin coated crepe paper, powder coated aluminium, steel chain, electrical components, Dimensions variable, Installation view 'No Reflections: Scotland and Venice,' Venice Biennale, 2009
Venice Biennale, Venice

‘I have found it helpful to think of a garden as a sculpture. Not sculpture in the sense of an ordinary object to be viewed. But sculpture thatis large enough and perforated enough to walk through. And open enough to present no barrierto movement, and broken enough to guide the experience which is essentially a communion with the sky.’

James Rose, Creative Gardens
New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation

Curated by Dundee Contemporary Arts (DCA), No Reflections was commissioned by Scotland and Venice, a partnership between the Scottish Arts Council, National Galleries of Scotland and the British Council Scotland, and builds on the critical success of previous projects which have promoted artists including Turner Prize winner Simon Starling and Turner Prize nominees, Cathy Wilkes and Jim Lambie. The Venice Biennale is the world’s largest and most prestigious international showcase for contemporary visual arts.

Martin Boyce’s lyrical installation of newly commissioned work for seven interconnected rooms in a 15th century Venetian Palazzo imagined the space as an abandoned garden, introducing into the fading grandeur of the palace groupings of works — suspended aluminium trees, scattered wax paper leaves, raised stepping stones, a wooden bird box, tables and benches. Setting out to ‘delve into the city’s interior landscape’, Boyce conflated the internal and external, creating a heightened sense of displacement and abandonment. On its return to Dundee the work has been configured to work within DCA’s more modern, purpose-built galleries.

The concept for No Reflections makes reference to a starting point in Boyce’s work – a photograph of four concrete trees created by Joël and Jan Martel for the 1925 Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. These trees, Boyce says, ‘represent a perfect collapse of architecture and nature’, visualising oppositional elements of urban existence: the natural versus the constructed, the populated versus the uninhabited, old versus new.