The British Council has commissioned artist Sonia Boyce OBE RA to represent Great Britain at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, presenting a major solo exhibition of new work, from 23 April to 27 November 2022.
“Few would question the enormous challenges we have collectively faced over the past two years. What has shone through, for me, in this journey to create a new body of work is the irrepressible spirit of human creativity.”
Opening 23 April 2022
Giardini della Biennale di Venezia’
Boyce’s exhibition will be a new multi-media installation comprising video, sound, wallpaper and sculptural objects, throughout the galleries of the British Pavilion. The new work will show the vitality of collaborative play leading to artistic innovation, a central tenet of Boyce’s practice, as well as the importance of taking intuitive creative risks.
Boyce’s practice is improvisational and highly collaborative, inviting contributors or participants to come together and speak, sing or move in relation to the past and the present. At the heart of Boyce’s work is an empowering exploration of gestures and events, with an underlying focus on the personal and political subjectivities behind them. is fundamentally collaborative and inclusive, fostering a participatory approach that questions artistic authorship and cultural difference.
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.
For nearly forty years Boyce has consistently worked within the art school context. Since 2014 she has been a Professor at University of the Arts London, where she holds the inaugural Chair in Black Art & Design. A three year research project into Black Artists and Modernism culminated with the 2018 BBC Four documentary Whoever Heard of a Black Artist?, exploring the contribution of overlooked artists of African and Asian descent to the story of Modern British art. The artist’s 2018 retrospective at Manchester Art Gallery caused controversy when John William Waterhouse’s Hylas and the Nymphs (1896) was temporarily removed from public view. The withdrawal of the painting formed the basis of Boyce’s six-screen film and wallpaper installation Six Acts (2018).