Canada Pavilion Venice Biennale Unveils Shary Boyle’s Music for Silence

Canada Pavilion Venice Biennale

The National Gallery of Canada and Canada Council for the Arts today announced the opening of Shary Boyle: Music for Silence, an exhibition of new work by Shary Boyle for the Pavilion of Canada at the 55th International Art Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia.

Exploring ideas of silence, isolation and solitude, Toronto-based artist Shary Boyle has created an immersive installation for her national presentation in the Giardini di Castello. This ambitious site-specific work engages with Venice’s long heritage of theatricality and mythology; transforming the Pavilion of Canada both inside and out.

Music for Silence is a total re-imagining of Canada’s national space, merging imagination and folklore with humanistic, feminist and social concerns. Visitors to the Pavilion of Canada will step into Boyle’s visionary narrative, engaging the intimate and universal through the sensual and emotive directness of her work.

On approaching Music for Silence visitors encounter a bronze sentry, a startled child perched atop the pavilion’s roof, weaving a maypole down the length of a concrete column. Inside the space, small porcelain figures carry large burdensome planets, evoking resilience, euphoria and grief. A silent black and white film plays, featuring a deaf woman performing in sign language, without subtitles. The character translates a dedication text written by the artist describing her intentions for the exhibit. A life-sized underwater cave set becomes a refuge: the resting place for an ancient sea deity sheltering a human infant. Overhead projectors flood the cave and plaster figures with saturated photo-collage in overwhelming detail, introducing a psychic strata populated by the mysterious, the forgotten and the silenced.

The Pavilion of Canada was built in 1958 under the direction of the National Gallery of Canada by famed Italian architect Enrico Peressutti, from the Milanese architectural firm Studio Architetti BBPR. It is situated between the pavilions of Britain and Germany within the Giardini di Castello.