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September 1, 2022 – January 15, 2023

Shary Boyle

Outside the Palace of Me

In this multi-sensory project, Canadian visual artist and performer Shary Boyle explores the creative nature of identity and personality in an age where social media has become a stage for self-presentation.

A theatrical exhibition

Borrowing a line from UK poet Kae Tempest’s 2017 song “Europe Is Lost,” Outside the Palace of Me expresses the artist’s ever-mounting anxieties about global crises within the context of identity theatre. Reflecting on contemporary constructions of self through the language of costume, character, set design and stage effects, Boyle explores how we see each other and how we see ourselves.

Outside the Palace of Me is a multi-sensory installation featuring drawings, ceramic sculptures, life-sized automatons, two-way mirrors, a coin-operated sculpture and an interactive score. Reimagining the museum as a collective performance space, the artist worked closely with a scenic designer, robotics engineer, amusement park innovator and costume artist to joyfully envision a set for humanity and imagination.

Boyle mines histories of craft and obsolete technologies to connect our current realities to legacies of the past. Revolving the stage around her uncanny characters and their destabilized audience, she urges viewers to think critically about how we create both ourselves and the world we inhabit.

Image of the artwork The Potter II by Shary Boyle
Shary Boyle (born in 1972), Misogyny + Misanthropy, 2018, ink and gouache on paper, 105 x 81 cm.

About the artist

Born in 1972, Shary Boyle works across diverse media, including sculpture, painting, installation and drawing. She is known for her bold, highly crafted and deeply imaginative explorations of the figure. Boyle thrives on collaboration and mentorship. In her practice, she considers the social history of ceramic figurines, animist mythologies and folk art forms to create a symbolic, feminist and politically charged language that is uniquely her own. Shary Boyle’s work is exhibited and collected internationally, and she represented Canada at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013.


In the media

L’installation Devant le palais du Moi, de l’artiste Shary Boyle, expose avec brio le fait que nous incarnons tous des rôles.

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Le Devoir

Nicolas Mavrikakis

Le Devoir

Viewing Shary Boyle’s exhibition […] is like a walk through an enchanted forest, as if one has entered a Grimm’s Fairy Tale set in the present day, or gone to the circus.

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The Montreal Gazette logo
T’Cha Dunlevy
Montreal Gazette

Ce voyage théâtral et humain se fait coloré, vivant, singulier, et parfois nécessairement confrontant.

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Sarah-Émilie Nault
Le Journal de Montréal

Merging identity politics, slapstick and a near-Victorian imaginative sensibility, [Shary Boyle] explores with bravado and shameless curiosity what we share despite our differences.

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John K. Grande

Credits and curatorial team

An exhibition organized by the Gardiner Museum, Toronto, in collaboration with the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It 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.

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Image of the artwork The Potter II by Shary Boyle

Shary Boyle (born in 1972), The Potter II, 2019, terracotta, porcelain, glazes, gold lustre, 57.8 x 37.5 x 38.5 cm. MMFA, purchase, Suzanne Caouette Bequest, in tribute to Michelle Prévost. Photo John Jones

Shary Boyle (born in 1972), Judy, 2021, wax, electronics, ceramics, mixed media, 195.6 x 91.4 x 71.1 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Patel Brown Gallery. Photo Toni Hafkenscheid

Shary Boyle (born in 1972), Misogyny + Misanthropy, 2018, ink and gouache on paper, 105 x 81 cm.

Shary Boyle (born in 1972), Misogyny + Misanthropy, 2018, ink and gouache on paper, 105 x 81 cm. Collection of Elisabeth Preston and Peter Strickland. Photo Imagefoundry

Shary Boyle. Photo Jeff Bierk © 2020

A Gallery Guide in an exhibition

Photo MMFA, Denis Farley

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