Winner of Venice Biennale Golden Lion, artist Sonia Boyce to visit Helsinki in September

British artist, professor and researcher Sonia Boyce won the Golden Lion for best national participation at the Venice Biennale with her work Feeling Her Way. Boyce will visit the University of the Arts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts in September and hold a public Keynote lecture on 14 September 2022.

Portrait of Sonia Boyce.
Sonia Boyce will visit Helsinki in September 2022. Photo: Sarah Weal, courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery.

Sonia Boyce (b. 1962) is an award-winning, London-based artist who came to prominence in the 1980s as a key figure in the burgeoning Black Arts Movement in Britain. Through her figurative pastel drawings and photo collages, she addressed the issues of race and gender. In many ways, Boyce has been a trailblazer – for example, in 1987, she became the first Black-British female artist whose works were acquired by Tate. Since then, collaborative and inclusive approaches and improvisation have begun to play an increasingly important role in Boyce’s practice, which consequently questions the concept of artistic authorship. Boyce’s practice incorporates performance, moving image, photography, drawings, print and sound.

For nearly forty years, Boyce has worked in art schools and other academic contexts as a teacher and researcher. Her three-year research project at the University of the Arts London culminated with the BBC documentary Whoever Heard of a Black Artist? Britain’s Hidden Art History (2018), which turned the spotlight on artists with African and Asian descent who have long been overlooked in the history of British art. Boyce is a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, and she has been awarded the title of OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire).

The winning installation gives a voice to black women

Sonia Boyce won the Golden Lion prize with her work Feeling Her Way which combines video, collages, music and sculpture. The artwork focuses on the vocal experimentation of five outstanding black female musicians as they embody feelings of power, freedom and vulnerability. 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.

According to the jury, Boyce proposes another reading of histories through the sonic. In working collaboratively with other black women, she unpacks a plenitude of silenced stories.

Keynote lecture at Dance House Helsinki in September

During her visit, Boyce will give a Saastamoinen Foundation Keynote Lecture, which is open to the public. The lecture will be held on Wednesday, 14 September 2022, at 18 at Dance House Helsinki, Kaapeliaukio 3. The lecture will be held in English.

The lecture by Boyce will be the sixth Keynote lecture organised by Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts and the Saastamoinen Foundation. Speakers at the annual lecture event are internationally important figures in the arts.

Boyce’s visit is part of the fine arts internationalisation programme launched by the Academy of Fine Arts and the Saastamoinen Foundation in 2014, which, in addition to lectures, includes international mentoring and residency activities for master’s students and alumni of the academy.

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