Patricia L. Boyd “Hold” at Kunstverein München, Munich
Patricia L. Boyd (b. 1980 in London), whose practice encompasses sculpture, photography, writing, and video, develops her artworks through inquiries into the infrastructures and dynamics of their production and presentation. The works on view in Holdat Kunstverein München, many of which intervene into the architecture of the gallery, consider the reciprocal relationship between artistic practices and mechanisms of display. In its figuration of various types of containers and thresholds, Hold further points to the contradictions that structure psychological and institutional spaces.
The wall is a defining architectural and metaphorical element within Boyd’s practice: the artist works with walls as surfaces for display and support, and as actual barriers that determine how a space is moved through. Furthermore, for Boyd the wall also represents something less easy to grasp, namely the dynamics that are operative within all kinds of institutions (not just art institutions), through which they protect and advance their agendas, even in unconscious ways.
In the series Wall Pieces (since 2017), Boyd produces negative casts of components of an office chair and turntable using a homemade mixture that includes recycled cooking grease collected from restaurants. When first exhibited, each sculpture is embedded into the wall of the gallery it is shown in. After the initial exhibition, the work is extracted along with the surrounding section of wall in which it was enclosed, which thereafter remains permanently attached to the cast. This “wall piece” is described by the artist as a prosthesis, as it functions to hold the cast in place and to extend it in size and meaning. The placing of the casts is determined by the position of cavity walls within the galleries they are shown in and derives from the basic question of what the “container” is made of or has been before. At the Kunstverein, there are no cavity walls, so transformations have been made to the space in order to accommodate the casts. The sculptures point to an interdependence between artist and institution, while mapping exhibition spaces and their palimpsestic uses. Here, it becomes apparent that revisiting and reusing settings and contexts of previous works is a strategy often utilized by the artist, pointing to the recursive temporality that undergirds her approach.
Another architectural element in Boyd’s work is the window. In her series Impressions (since 2015), the artist producesphotograms of windows and glass surfaces. A new series of photograms, Minutes, hours, or days (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII) (2021), depicts inverted representations of Boyd’s New York apartment windows, and enfolds artistic production into a domestic architecture. The attention to domesticity also acts in kinship with feminist inquiries into the labor and social role of women and the relationship between art making and daily life with respect to gender. In Boyd’s practice, social reproduction is shown to be contingent upon feminist traditions of care.
Boyd’s layered gestures of spatial transformation effect a change in the perception of the Kunstverein’s building, and our own movement therein. This culminates in a final intervention: large panes of glass, perforated with a circular pattern of holes, are inserted into each of the two doorways leading to the institution’s third gallery, invoking an incubator or vitrine yet at the same time imposing a barrier. Visitors are prevented from entering the sealed off room, both accenting and frustrating their role as a spectator.
Behind the glass, two videos, Chop and Cutting Furrows and Turning Over (both 2021), reference various kinds of cuts and incursions, both in the (audio) visual material and the configuration of the edit. The latter is made from footage of photographs being manipulated on a filmed computer screen. The photographs are of ploughs and their component parts that the artist has accessed through the online database of a collection of historic farming equipment held by The Museum of English Rural Life. The two video works, which together with the glass panes form Incubator (2021), generate a complex interplay of valences and associations in the pastoral vein around labor, productivity, fertility, and the durational practice of maintenance—but all at a distance, accessed through an archive and witnessed through a glass interface.
Curated by Gloria Hasnay
At Kunstverein München, Munich
until June 13, 2021