Born in London, in 1962, Sonia Boyce (OBE, RA) lives and works in London, UK. She came to prominence in the early 1980s as a key figure in the burgeoning Black-British art scene of that time – be-coming one of the youngest artists of her generation to have her work purchased by Tate, with paintings that spoke about race and gender in Britain. Since the 1990s Boyce’s practice has taken a more multi-media and improvisational turn by bringing people together in a social practice that encourages others to speak, sing or move in relation to the past and the present. 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.
With these words the jury of La Biennale di Venezia awarded Sonia Boyce with the prestigious Golden Lion for Best National Participation at La Biennale di Venezia 2022 for her exhibition Feeling Her Way at the British Pavilion.
Boyce’s installation Feeling Her Way immerses visitors in the collaborative dynamism of five Black female musicians (four British, one Swedish) brought together by the artist to improvise, interact and play with their voices. Colour-tinted video works take centre stage among Boyce’s signature tessellating wallpapers and golden 3-D geometric structures, which bring the audience into the work through their highly reflective surfaces. The rooms of the pavilion 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 20+ years and spanning more than three centuries, which honours the substantial contribution of Black British female musicians to the emotional lives of the public and to transnational culture. Works from this collection – vinyl, CDs, books and ephemera – form part of the installation in the pavilion, elevated by golden plinths.