Art in Action: Learning from Sonia Boyce's 'Feeling her Way', Venice, 2022

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Abstract

This research asks what we can learn from the success of Sonia Boyce at the 2022
Venice Biennale. It opens with a personal account of viewing the work. It moves on to
consider the press response to Boyce’s work and the strategies required by the artist
to resist identity-based interpretation. Boyce’s diplomatic work in handling the press
reveals the structural inequities faced currently by artists operating at all levels who
have a global majority background or any other identity that has been historically
marginalised within Western culture. To understand the interpretative challenges
faced by Boyce, it is necessary to return to the art and its histories, the 1980s and the
British Black Arts Movement and the art of the following decade. The lack of attention
paid to the history of the British Black Arts Movement period poses a genuine risk to
any artist whose work emerged at this time, and has historically contributed to limiting
artists’ access to elite platforms such as the Venice Biennale. Great Britain’s pavilion
programme over the last thirty years and its relationship with market forces exposes
critical structural issues that, for the creation of future equity, must be addressed.
Finally, the role of collaboration and partnership across wider contemporary art and
cultural sectors is proposed here as offering potential for progress towards more
equitable creative futures.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherClore Leadership
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

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