Friday, 14 April 2017

Martin Boyce:Do Words Have Voices (and why should I care)?

Like much in my life at the moment Martin Boyce's Do Words Have Voices installation at Tate Britain felt like a complete waste of time and energy. It also held a mirror up to my despondency in that I came away wondering how the fuck such an obvious lack of any discernible insight, talent, or humanity hadn't held Boyce back and, if anything, had helped propel him forwards.

Maybe I'm just getting older and more cynical about these kind of things but really? Is this it? We live in hugely tumultuous times. It'd be nice to see more art reflect that in the way Bouchra Khalili and Gideon Mendel's recent shows did. I came away from them thoughtful and inspired, not numb and hopeless.

Boyce (born in Scotland, 1967) actually won the 2011 Turner Prize with this. It was the year they held it at the Baltic in Gateshead so I, thankfully, missed it.

Using aluminium, wood, brass, and various different kinds of steel he's recreated, somewhat unconvincingly and totally pointlessly, a park in autumn. So it's representational art. Bad representational art.

Whilst the board on the door talks of 'utopian notions of living' and 'the perfect collapse of atmosphere and nature' most visitors simply wandered past the mocked up bin and leaves at best bewildered, in most cases nonplussed bordering on utterly oblivious. They had the right idea. I took time to take it in. I got no more out of it than them.

Even the lights that were supposed to be 'dimmed to evoke the atmosphere of an urban park at dusk' were actually on brighter than those in a nearby room of Victorian landscapes.

I felt the whole exercise was vacuous and self-indulgent. Much like this blog. Much like my life. So at least, in the end, I'd managed to identify some connection. Oh dear.

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