Montreal Museum of Fine Arts presents


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

View of the exhibition Shary Boyle:
Outside the Palace of Me.
Photo MMFA, Denis Farley

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.

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