Around 2003, Martin Boyce began to buy pieces of modernist design, such as Jacobsen chairs and Eames shelves and leg splints, on Ebay, sometimes for bargain prices. He used them in his own sculptures, often painting or cutting them up in the process. ‘Suspended Fall’ is a mobile made with sawn-off Jacobsen ‘Series 7’ chair parts. Deliberately reminiscent of the mobile sculptures of Alexander Calder, Boyce’s mobile highlights the obvious echo between the forms of Calder and Jacobsen. Although Jacobsen was Danish and Calder American, they were contemporaries working with ‘new’ industrial materials such as plywood and sheet metal in a climate of post-war optimism, and both explicitly engaged with the aesthetic and aspirations of modernism.
In the way he went about obtaining and handling these materials, Boyce casts an unmistakable air of melancholy over their idealism. He points to the bleak capitulation of modernist principles, from ‘good affordable design for all’ to the inflated economic values and cultural elitism that these iconic objects represent today.