Sonia Boyce's postcard from Venice
Sonia Boyce is at the Venice Biennale to oversee her work, Exquisite Cacophony, a freeform vocal improvisation between Minneapolis-based ‘indie rapper’ Astronautalis and Elaine Mitchener, a classically trained vocalist of catholic taste who has worked with such as Christian Marclay, David Toop, Aphex Twin and Evan Parker.
A figurative painter for 20 years, British artist Boyce’s primary concerns have been identity and ethnicity. But now her means of expression have diversified into sound, video, photography and, in the case of Exquisite Cacophony, language and improvisation.
The work is part of All the World’s Futures, a multi-artist project curated by the Biennale’s Nigerian born director of the Visual Arts Sector, Okwui Enwezor (who, incidentally, has been responsible for a heartening new statistic for the event, that 25 per cent of this year’s artists are black).
The project is supposed to form a multi-faceted artistic response to our troubled times.
Enwezor is obviously not a man to shirk the big questions. He says; “The principal question the exhibition will pose is this: How can artists, thinkers, writers, composers, choreographers, singers, and musicians, through images, objects, words, movement, actions, lyrics, sound bring together publics in acts of looking, listening, responding, engaging, speaking in order to make sense of the current upheaval?”
As you will see in Boyce’s film, her improvised show Exquisite Cacophony at Padiglione Centrale, Giardini di Castello stimulated and surprised in equal measure.
- In her filmed postcard from Venice, Sonia Boyce visits the Czech and Slovak Pavilion to see one of the Biennale’s talked-about works, Jiří David’s painting Apotheosis (2015) which takes its inspiration from Apotheosis of the Slavs: Slavs for Humanity (1926) by the Czech Secessionist artist Alphonse Mucha (1860 – 1939). She then proceeds to the Padiglione Centrale for her performance of Exquisite Cacophony.
- A Cultureshock Media Production for BBC Arts.