Starting her career within the British Black Art movement in the 1980s, Sonia Boyce's art practice has been often been attached to drawing, collage and painting. since the 1990s her work has extended toward video, photography and collaborative practices. The aim of this monograph is twofold: on the one hand, to discuss how her very specific way of linking collaborative practice to video is embedded within an art history genealogy of interdisciplinary practices; on the other, to analyse how her specific interest in black feminism, cultural studies, film studies, art history and critical theory is embodied in her work.
The object is shaped by the voices of Adelaide Bannerman, Cecile Bargues, Jean Fisher, Sophie Orlando
, Allison Thompson, and Sonia Boyce herself, focusing on several major collaborative performance-videos including Exquisite Cacophony
, Paper Tiger Whisky Soap Theatre
, and Crop Over
Sonia Boyce (born 1962, London, where she lives and works) came to prominence in the early 1980s as a key figure in the burgeoning British Black Art
scene—becoming one of the youngest artists of her generation to have her work purchased by the Tate Gallery, with paintings
that spoke about racial identity
Her works have subsequently been purchased by several public collections. Sine the 1990s Boyce's practice has taken a more multi-media and improvisational turn by bringing people together speak or sing about the past and the present.
Since 1983, Boyce has exhibited extensively throughout the UK and internationally. An abbreviated account of exhibitions and monographs include : Sonia Boyce : “Speaking in Tongues”, (Gilane Tawadros, Kala Press 1997), “Annotations 2/Sonia Boyce : Performance”, (Mark Crinson, Iniva – The Institute of International Visual Arts 1998) ; “Video Positive : the other side of zero”, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool (2000) ; “Recent Sonia Boyce: La, la, la”, Reed College, Portland – Oregon (2001) ; “Century City: art and culture in the modern metropolis”, Tate Modern, London (2001) ; Sharjah International Biennial 7, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2005) ; “Devotional”, National Portrait Gallery, London (2007) ; “Crop over”, Harewood House, Leeds and Barbados Museum & Historical Society (2007/2008), “For you, only you” (Paul Bonaventura, Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, Oxford University and tour 2007/2008), “Praxis : Art in Times of Uncertainty”, Thessaloniki Biennial 2, Greece (2009) ; “Like Love”, Spike Island, Bristol and tour (Green Box Press, Berlin, 2010) ; “Afro Modern”, Tate Liverpool and tour (2010) ; “The Impossible Community”, Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2011) ; “Play! Recapturing the Radical Imagination”, Göteberg International Biennial of Contemporary Art 7 (2013) ; and, “All the World's Futures”, 56th Venice Biennale (2015).
In 2007, David A Bailey, Ian Baucom and Sonia Boyce jointly received the History of British Art Book Prize (USA) for the edited volume Shades of Black Art in 1980s Britain
, published by Duke University Press in collaboration with Iniva – the Institute of International Visual Art, and AAVAA – The African and Asian Visual Artists Archive. In the same year she was awarded an MDE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, for her services to art. Sonia Boyce won Golden Lion Award at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2022.
Boyce has recently completed an AHRC Research Fellowship at Wimbledon College Art and Design, University of the Arts London, with her concluding research project “The Future is Social”.
She is currently Professor of Fine Art at Middlesex University, in the School of Art and Design, Chair of Black Art and Design accross tge six colleges of the University of the Arts London (UAL) and Principal Investigator for the Arts & Humanities Research Council funded project “Black Artists and Modernism” (UAL/Middlesex University, London). Curator, Okwui Enwezor invited Sonia Boyce as one of the artists for the 56th Venice Biennale, where she presented Exquisite Cacophony