Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me is on view at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal
September 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023
From September 1, 2022, to January 15, 2023, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) will present Outside the Palace of Me. This major project by Canadian multidisciplinary artist Shary Boyle explores the forces creating our inner and outer selves, both individual and collective. Known for her highly crafted and deeply imaginative explorations of the human figure in a variety of media, Boyle takes a critical look at the way we shape our identity in a constantly changing world. The exhibition has been organized by the Gardiner Museum, Toronto, in collaboration with the MMFA.
In this project, whose title was inspired by the British poet Kae Tempest’s song “Europe Is Lost” (2016), the palace serves as a metaphor for the construction and presentation of self. The exhibition itself draws on theatre structures and performance art, and unfolds across a series of scenes, delving into the myriad influences that shape us. The culmination of a critical examination of colonialism, misogyny and racism, the works within it also inspire a reflection on beauty, nostalgia, trust and hope in the future, and the human capacity for empathy.
Outside the Palace of Me is a multimedia exhibition featuring new works by the artist, including drawings, ceramics, life-sized automatons, two-way mirrors, a coin-operated sculpture and an interactive soundtrack. Reimagining the museum as a collective performance space, the artist worked closely with a set designer, robotics engineer, amusement park designer and wardrobe master to invent a playful exhibition design that honours humanity and imagination. Empowering audiences to share the stage with her uncanny characters, she urges us to reflect on the creation of our own personas, and take responsibility for the world we inhabit.
“With this exhibition, Shary Boyle breaks new ground by synthesizing her distinctive visual language across ceramic sculpture, painting, life-size animatronics, and a theatrical set to make us question how we see ourselves and each other,” explains Sequoia Miller, PhD, Chief Curator of the Gardiner Museum and curator of the exhibition.
“The MMFA is thrilled to present Outside the Palace of Me to Montreal audiences. Shary Boyle’s deeply compelling and pertinent exhibition invites us to consider what it means to truly see ourselves and others at a time when so much of our perception of reality is mediated by technology,” says Mary-Dailey Desmarais, Chief Curator at the MMFA.
Outside the Palace of Me asks viewers to hold complex, nuanced and sometimes paradoxical understandings of human nature. Visionary, strange and insightful in the way dreams can be, Shary Boyle’s art helps us witness aspects of ourselves we may not have realized can be seen.
The exhibition is complemented by a monograph in English published by the Art Canada Institute. Also titled Outside the Palace of Me, it features essays by Shary Boyle, Sequoia Miller, the exhibition’s curator, and Crystal Mowry, Director of Programs at the MacKenzie Art Gallery.
About Shary Boyle
Shary Boyle was born in 1972 in Scarborough, a neighbourhood on the eastern edge of Toronto. In 2021, she received an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from her alma mater, the Ontario College of Art. Soon after graduating from this institution in 1994, Boyle began developing a studio practice centred on figurative drawing, painting and live performance. Creating deeply imaginative, idiosyncratic and unsettling worlds, she was an early innovator of live-drawing techniques using overhead projectors that reference shadow puppetry and cell animation. She has often collaborated with musicians and artists from other disciplines in her performances, activating her practice with a characteristically inclusive spirit.
Shary Boyle continues to work in sculpture, installation, drawing and performance. Her multidisciplinary artworks were the subject of a major touring exhibition, Shary Boyle: Flesh and Blood (2010-2011), curated by Louise Déry of Galerie de l’UQAM. She represented Canada at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 with Music for Silence, and co-curated the collaborative touring project Earthlings in 2017. Boyle has given performances and shown her work extensively, from Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Icheon, South Korea, to remote communities such as Dawson City, Yukon, and Inuvik, the Northwest Territories. Her work is represented in many private and institutional collections, including those of the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Gardiner Museum.
Credits and curatorial team
An exhibition organized by the Gardiner Museum, Toronto, in collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition is curated by Sequoia Miller, PhD, Chief Curator of the Gardiner Museum. The curator in charge of the exhibition at the MMFA is Alexandrine Théorêt, Assistant Curator of International Modern and Contemporary Art.
Official Sponsor: Denalt Paints
With support from the MMFA’s Women of Influence Circle
Media partner: La Presse
Public partners: Government of Quebec, Canada Council for the Arts and Conseil des arts de Montréal
About the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Founded in 1860, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (MMFA) is the oldest art museum in Canada and a leading museum in North America. Its collection showcases Quebec and Canadian heritage and international art from a critical and intercultural perspective, and comprises some 45,000 paintings, sculptures, graphic art works, photographs, multimedia installations and decorative art objects dating from antiquity to the present. The MMFA’s exhibitions span every discipline from archaeology to fine arts, to contemporary practices. Laid out over five interconnecting pavilions, the Museum complex includes over 80 exhibition galleries, the Bourgie concert hall, an auditorium and movie theatre, the Boutique and Bookstore, an in-house publishing department, a public sculpture garden and the Michel de la Chenelière International Atelier for Education and Art Therapy. A pioneering museum in the provision of art therapy, the MMFA works with the community, education, health and technology sectors to give all people exposure to art through inclusive and enriching experiences
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
1380 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec H3G 1J5
- View of the exhibition Shary Boyle: Outside the Palace of Me. Photo MMFA, Denis Farley (photos 1-8)
- Shary Boyle, The Potter II, 2019. MMFA, purchase, Suzanne Caouette Bequest, in tribute to Michelle Prévost. Photo John Jones
- Shary Boyle, The Painter, 2019. Courtesy of Claridge Collection. Photo John Jones
- Shary Boyle, The Sculptor, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Patel Brown Gallery. Photo John Jones
- Shary Boyle, White Elephant, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area (CAFKA). Photo Toni Hafkenscheid
- Shary Boyle, Judy, 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Patel Brown Gallery. Photo Toni Hafkenscheid
- Shary Boyle, Misogyny + Misanthropy, 2018. Collection of Elisabeth Preston and Peter Strickland. Photo Imagefoundry
- Shary Boyle, Lone Gunman (White Man), 2019. Collection of Elisabeth Preston and Peter Strickland. Photo Imagefoundry
- Shary Boyle, Cephalophoric Saint, 2018. Collection of E. Grace and S. Vella. Photo Toni Hafkenscheid
- Shary Boyle, Settler, 2019. Courtesy of the artist and Patel Brown Gallery. Photo Imagefoundry