Sonia Boyce OBE
New Talk Art! We meet leading artist Sonia Boyce. Boyce’s practice is fundamentally collaborative and inclusive, fostering a participatory approach that questions artistic authorship and cultural difference. Last month, she became the first Black female artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale, the world’s oldest international art exhibition. The work she presented in the British Pavilion won the prestigious prize, the Golden Lion. Six years before, she had been the first Black British woman to get elected to the Royal Academy of Arts.
The British Council presents Feeling Her Way by Sonia Boyce at the British Pavilion for La Biennale di Venezia, running from 23 April – 27 November 2022. Boyce’s powerful exhibition explores the potential of collaborative play as a route to innovation. The installation brings together video works featuring five Black* female musicians (Poppy Ajudha, Jacqui Dankworth MBE, Sofia Jernberg, Tanita Tikaram and composer Errollyn Wallen CBE) who were invited to improvise, interact and play with their voices. The video works take centre stage among Boyce’s signature tessellating wallpapers and golden geometric structures, and the Pavilion’s rooms are filled with sounds – sometimes harmonious, sometimes clashing – embodying feelings of freedom, power and vulnerability.
This new commission expands on Boyce’s Devotional Collection, built over more than two decades and spanning more than three centuries, which honours the substantial contribution of Black British female musicians to transnational culture.
Artist and academic Sonia Boyce OBE RA (b. London, 1962) came to prominence in the early 1980s as a key figure in the burgeoning Black Arts Movement of that time with figurative pastel drawings and photo collages that addressed issues of race and gender in Britain. In 1987, she became one of the youngest artists of her generation to have her artwork acquired by Tate and the first Black-British female artist to enter the collection. Since the 1990s Boyce’s practice has taken a significant multi-media and improvisational turn by bringing people together in a dynamic, social practice that encourages others to speak, sing or move in relation to the past and the present. Incorporating film, photography, print and sound in multi-media installations, Boyce’s practice is fundamentally collaborative and inclusive, fostering a participatory approach that questions artistic authorship and cultural difference. At the heart of her work are questions about the production and reception of unexpected gestures, with an underlying interest in the intersection of personal and political subjectivities.
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