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The world of MARTIN BOYCE is what he makes it: strange and a little sinister. Now the Glasgow artist is returning home to dream up a utopian urban garden. Words: Jack Mottram
artin Boyce creates objects imported from an alternative history or teleported in from some future place. They are mysterious pieces that come complete with their own protective bubble: the atmosphere of imagined locations. When faced with Boyce‘s work. the viewer asks not: ‘Who made this'?‘ but: ‘Where did this come from‘." His creations are arresting. evocative and downright weird.
Born in Hamilton in 1967. he is part of the generation of artists — Roddy Buchanan. Douglas Gordon. Ross Sinclair et al — who made Glasgow a focus of the international art scene in the l99()s. In recent times. however. you're more likely to have seen him in Paris. London. Copenhagen or Athens than at home. His last Scottish solo show was at Edinburgh‘s Fruitmarket Gallery in 199‘). which makes it all the more exciting that his latest show for Glasgow‘s Tramway is his most ambitious to date.
As was the case with his summer show at the Museum
of Modern Art in Frankfurt. his Tramway installation. Our
Love is Like the Flowers. the Rain. the Sea and the Hours. marks a shift away from the malevolence of his recent work towards a more poetic tone.
‘lt‘s not a huge leap.’ says Boyce taking a break from installing his new work in the Tramway‘s hangar-like main space. ‘But I have been wanting to introduce a new tone. A lot of the previous work is quite dark. creating this idea of an imaginary location that‘s always been quite noir. quite cinematic. The idea with this was to create something more poetic. more romantic.‘
Already. there is a charged atmosphere in the Tramway‘s main space. even though only the barest bones of the installation are in place. He‘s creating an indoor parkscape inspired by utopian ideals. designing sculptures
10 THE LIST 14—28 Nov 2002
in the form of rubbish bins alongside benches. black chain-link fencing and abstracted tree shapes. ‘l've been thinking about the way you create a space for yourself — whether that's a physical space. a psychological space or an emotional space — that you could describe as a utopia.‘ he says. ‘A teenager’s bedroom could be described as a utopia. I wanted to have that same feeling. of a space you might have occupied as a teenager. that place you find for
yourself. Exterior spaces like a park at night. The kind of
urban park. the gap between the city and the suburbs. or the gaps inside the city.‘
This is not a radical departure but. where his pieces in the past dealt in subtle evocation and remained wide open for the viewer to build a world around them. the new work is more defined. more focused on creating a specific atmosphere. explicit rather than implicit.
‘The idea.‘ Boyce says. ‘is that you can have a landscape or a building and the narrative that surrounds those places can be described through detail. If you have an ashtray. it requires a surface to support it: a table. And a table requires a room. and so on. By the specific look and design of these objects. I can suggest the type of space they might occupy.‘
This is a good time to see a Martin Boyce show. then. He is branching out. lighting on new sources of inspiration and expanding on the ideas that have made his past work so special.
When Boyce's indoor parkscape is fully realised. it looks set to be Glasgow’s ultimate twilight hangout. the air humming with teenage pasts. presents and futures.
Our Love is Like the Flowers, the Rain, the Sea and the Hours opens at Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 22 Nov-Sun 19 Jan.
conjures up the atmosphere of imagined locations
'Bythe design of these objects, lean suggest thetype ofspace they nnght occupy'