Boyle Family / construction
24a Calvin Street
Boyle Family – The Barcelona Site, World Series
exhibition open by appointment
This exhibition at Boyle Family’s own London project space presents the latest completed work from their ongoing World Series project: The Barcelona Site.
The World Series is Boyle Family’s major earth study project (1). Between August 1968 and summer 1969, 1000 sites were chosen at random by visitors to the artists’ studio and the exhibition, Journey to the Surface of the Earth, which launched the project at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London. Participants were blindfolded and either threw a dart or fired an air rifle at an unseen wall-sized map of the world, which now forms part of the work itself.
Over time, the artists (2) have so far travelled to over forty of the selected map sites. The first World Series site work was undertaken in 1970 in the Hague and exhibited that year at the Gemeentemuseum. Subsequent projects have included sites and museum exhibitions in Denmark, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, New Zealand and Japan. The Sardinian project was the main focus of the Boyle Family British Pavilion exhibition at the 1978 Venice Biennale.
On arriving at a selected site the artists use larger scale maps and finally the throwing of a set square to select the exact random location where each earth study is to be made. Other works are carried out on the site at the same time to record additional information from the area. So far, completed projects have been accompanied by studies of animal and plant life; weather and wind conditions; 360 degree photographs; vertical studies showing the earth under the site. Studies of the artists themselves are also made and included, so as to acknowledge that the ‘observer effect’ - the act of looking at and recording the site - may have an influence upon it and thus also become a part of the work.
The Barcelona site is the first World Series project undertaken in Spain and will take up the entire gallery space. Although the original dart landed on the black dot representing the city of Barcelona on the map, subsequent analysis proved the actual site was just outside the city to the north west, on land cleared to make way for new industrial buildings. The main Barcelona site study presents red ochre earth which records the actions of the sun and rain on the soil surface, with gradations of stones left around dried-out pools. Fragments of terracotta tiles and other building materials have become embedded and are breaking down to dust and traces of animal and plant activity can also be seen in the cracked mud.
The Barcelona suite of works also includes a vertical study taken from a bank at the edge of the site, showing the earth deeply eroded by water and revealing green and red sandstone rocks; electron microphotographs of insects and plant material found on the site; electron microphotographs of samples of hairs from the artists. The Barcelona project was begun in 2000 and completed this year.
Boyle Family’s work is represented in many public collections including the Tate; Stuttgart Staatsgalerie; Los Angeles County Museum; Kunstmuseum Luzern; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum and the Museum Moderna Kunst Vienna. For further information and bibliography please see www.boylefamily.co.uk.
Calvin Street is located in Spitalfields, between Commercial St. and Brick Lane. The nearest underground stations are Liverpool Street, Aldgate East and Old Street.
1. Boyle Family are best known for their earth studies: three dimensional casts of the surface of the earth which record and document random sites with great accuracy. These works combine real material from the site (stones, dust, twigs etc) with paint and resins, preserving the form of the ground to make unique one-off pieces that suggest and offer new interpretations of the environment, combining a powerful conceptual framework with a strong and haunting physical and visual presence.
2. Boyle Family are four collaborative artists who have made a major contribution to British contemporary art for over forty years, with a body of work that ranges from their seminal performance events and projection pieces of the 1960s to their unique earth studies project which was devised and initiated at the very beginning of conceptual and ideas based art.
Early works were made jointly by Mark Boyle and his partner Joan Hills, with their children, Sebastian and Georgia becoming increasingly involved as they grew up. They have worked and exhibited together as Boyle Family for over twenty years with major exhibitions in museums and galleries in Britain and abroad. Following the death of Mark Boyle in May 2005, Boyle Family continue to work and exhibit internationally, and to progress the execution of the World Series.