Sonia Boyce: Finding Her Voice 7 November 2022: imagine… on BBC One

Sonia Boyce: Finding Her Voice 7 November 2022: imagine... on BBC One 11

Alan Yentob follows acclaimed artist Sonia Boyce as she prepares to make history as the first black woman to represent Great Britain at the Venice Biennale. Why does that matter? Because this historic, sprawling exhibition is widely seen as the most prestigious and influential showcase of contemporary art in the world. The pressure is on for Sonia to pull off the biggest exhibition of her career.

Her Venice Pavilion is inspired by a passion project she has been obsessed with for over 20 years. Called the ‘Devotional Collection’, it’s a massive archive of memorabilia relating to the contributions of black women in the British music industry, and Sonia is bringing many of her collected names to Venice.

This insightful and timely film charts the two months leading up to the Biennale’s opening week, and also explores Sonia’s 40-year evolution as an artist. Beginning with the large-scale pastel depictions of herself that announced the arrival of a major new talent back in the 1980s, and looking at her experiments with interactive sculptures made of hair in the 1990s, the film ends with what fascinates Sonia Boyce today: performance art created through improvisation, play and experimental

Sonia finds herself part of a wider conversation at this year’s Biennale. Her close friend and former Brixton neighbour Zineb Sedira is the first artist of Algerian heritage to represent France, and her former pupil Alberta Whittle is making history as the first black woman to represent Scotland. For the first time in its history, women artists dominate the Biennale. Could this be a moment of fundamental change not only for Sonia Boyce, but for contemporary art history?

About imagine…

The arts series edited and presented by Alan Yentob.

This show is broadcast on BBC, also known as the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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