Sydney-based artist Daniel Boyd interrogates romanticised notions of colonisation and inherited narrative through artworks that explore the effects of time on collective memory and the subjectivity of historical records. Boyd’s paintings, videos and installations open up a space where dialogue can occur; a place where insight is offered, and awareness and understanding between opposing histories and cultures is paramount.
Boyd presents a series of six new paintings at the Embassy of Translation that draw inspiration from the figure of Pemulwuy, a Bidjigal (Bidgigal) man from the Botany Bay area of Sydney who was a powerful warrior and activist against British colonisation. Translating and re-contextualising historical images, Boyd explores ideas of strength, spirit and aboriginal resistance while commenting on science, evolution and Darwinism, and placing emphasis on the travesty of the continued existence of human remains in museums around the world. The paintings continue Boyd’s now familiar use of dots or lenses, the monochromatic tones revealing scenes that appear partial and incomplete – leaving the viewer to fill in the rest of the story, much in the same way history is often obscured by time and completed through memory and myth.
A second work for the 20th Biennale of Sydney takes the form of a major site-specific outdoor installation in Redfern titled What Remains, 2016. Situated near The Block, the blackened wall is covered with a constellation of more than 12,000 small mirrored dots, reflecting the daily comings and goings of all things; people, traffic, animals, light, life itself. Boyd investigates the way we perceive reality and make sense of the world, referencing scientific theories about ‘dark matter’, making visible the substance that connects us and holds the universe together. The work encourages close inspection and interaction as people pass by. Their presence becomes a part of the mirrored landscape, their reflected movements bringing life to an otherwise two-dimensional surface. What Remains is a reflection on the journey and the interconnectedness of all things. The ever-changing surface of the work is representative of the transforming community, a meditation on the complexities of the history of Redfern and the process of gentrification that it is currently undergoing.
Daniel Boyd has exhibited widely, with recent solo exhibitions that include ‘Pineapples in the Pacific’, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney (2014); ‘Daniel Boyd: History is Made at Night’, Artspace, Sydney (2013); ‘Up In Smoke Tour’, Natural History Museum, London (2012); and ‘Treasure Island’, Station, Melbourne (2014). The artist has also participated in major international group exhibitions, including ‘All the World’s Futures’, 56th Venice Biennale (2015); ‘Whorled Explorations’, Kochi-Muziris Biennale (2014-15); and ‘Post-Picasso: Contemporary Reactions’, Museu Picasso, Barcelona (2014).