Sonia Boyce to represent GB at Venice Biennale

The Afro-Caribbean artist Sonia Boyce has been chosen by the British Council to be Britain’s representative at next year’s Venice Biennale.

Known for her innovative experiments using performance, drawing, print and photography, since the 1990s she has been increasingly collaborative, and in 2016 she became the first black woman to be elected to the Royal Academy. She is the professor of black art and design at the University of the Arts London and was made an OBE last year.

“You could have knocked me down with a feather when I got the call to tell me I had been chosen to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale 2021 - it was like a bolt out of the blue?” Boyce said. “Obviously, I’m extremely honoured, excited – and nervous. I’m eager to start this creative journey, exploring the experience with others who agree to work with me along the way.”

She made headlines in 2018 when in a solo show at Manchester Art Gallery a Waterhouse Pre-Raphaelite painting Hylas and the Nymphs was taken down as a collaborative experiment testing curatorial choices in hanging, but was criticised as being an example of feminist censorship. In a newspaper article she argued that action was by no about removing an image deemed to be offensive, but rather drawing attention to museum practice.

“Boyce’s work raises important questions about the nature of creativity, questioning who makes art, how ideas are formed, and the nature of authorship" said Emma Dexter, the British Council's director of visual arts. "At such a pivotal moment in the UK’s history, the British Pavilion Selection Committee has chosen an artist whose work embodies inclusiveness, generosity, experimentation and the importance of working together.” 

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