Sonia Boyce – ‘Gathering a History of Black Women’ | TateShots

Sonia Boyce – ‘Gathering a History of Black Women’ | TateShots

I have a studio in East London part of
a multi creative arts complex I don’treally use a studio in the kind of
traditional sense of the studio this is This not a place of making it’s more a place
of thinking and rummaging I started visiting galleries and museums when I was quite young. Once we’d gone on school trips I would then go on my own and just go walking around Whitechapel I was part of a feminist art group that was at college and we were always seen as kind of the embattled group. I’d gone there with the intention of trying to deconstruct or reconstruct images around the black female body There were a very very limited range of images of African diasporic
women either being hypersexual ie.a prostitute or a mammy kind of figure of
service somehow. For me this was in stark contrast to the glut of images around white femininity. I’ve started to be very much part of what became known as the Black
Art Movement in the 1980s trying to highlight questions around race and cultural difference that became another tense area but it’s been the terrain in which I’ve worked from the very early age. I started making works with hair that I bought from shops, Afro-Caribbean hair shops and I started making these very strange objects This particular installation that I’ve made was called ‘Do You Want to Touch?’
People of African descent people often want to touch their hair Usually it can be a stranger coming up to someone wanting to touch their hair It harks back to a very long memory of the African body being public property The point about these works is
that they were made to be handled by the audience By these objects being removed from the
body there’s something quite violent but they become kind of disgusting Even though we think of hair and intimacy as something quite lovely the
moment that there is no longer a body there it’s like why has that been
divorced from a body? Much of the stuff that’s here relates to a project I’ve been doing It’s called ‘The Devotional Series’ or
‘Devotional Project’ so this project has been going on since about 1999 where I’ve
been gathering a kind of history of black women that might be across a range
of ethnic groups who’ve worked in the music industry and it consists at the moment of a wallpaper where there are 200 names I wanted us to just name some black
British female singers that people knew and it took about 10 minutes before
anyone could think of anybody and actually the very first person that was
remembered was Shirley Bassey Eventually people started to actually send me objects like records. These are all 45s This project has not only been about
naming these performers but also kind of remembering their music and collecting
their music I was part of what was called the Black
Art Movement People often do want to kind of mothball me in that 1980s moment but I of course have continued to make work and other questions have emerged. In more recent years I’ve tried to let go of the idea of there
being a message per se but a way of working. Increasingly that involves
people and improvising and being really spontaneous in the moment and that gets
captured. ‘Exquisite Cacophony’ is a half an hour video that I made working
with an artist called Astronautalis and Elaine Mitchener with an invited audience
and it was filmed at the Victorian Albert Museum. I usually invite people that I find what
they’re doing is interesting I don’t tell people what they are going to do gonna do. Astronautalis is actually working with the legacies of jazz scat in terms of rap
music and Elaine Mitchener is working with the legacies of Dada and concrete poetry and sound voice noise I bought them together, they had never met before knowing that they both kind of work with improvisation I’m trying desperately not to tell people what to think versus what I think the early works were because that was all these things that I
had to say. I’ve been invited back to where I’ve done my foundation to do some teaching. There’s increasingly a diverse range of
students who go to art school who need a diverse range of reference points,
starting points, thinking points so I’ve continued to be teaching for 35 years now. It is a space that I love but if there
was anything that I would say to anyone emerging just whatever you’ve got to do
just do it anyway and do it because you’re thinking it or feeling it and
it’s got to be expressed so just get on with it and do it.

9 thoughts on “Sonia Boyce – ‘Gathering a History of Black Women’ | TateShots

  1. Mr. Minister Louis Farrakhan neglected to tell us that no such living human bio-bodily beings, are baby born and blessedly birth, by "black" branding. And that tong twisted terminology, is worse than all of the other terrifying things he talk tough all about. He like so many other wanna-be "black" leaders, they mislead and misguide millions more melaninated minority-majority members, maiming minds. The demonically deadly disease = devilish deceptions!!! ("The Black Codes")
    CHARLES' Courageous Corrections: there are no such; "American citizens" in existence anywhere…., only United States citizens and or U.S. citizens, period.

  2. more black women in the tate ! great to see and feel represented, wish i could have been shown a video like this as a child

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