UK names first black woman to represent the country at the Venice Biennale

Sonia Boyce, Talking Presence, 1988. © Hayward Gallery, London
As Venice 2021 draws nearer, names are beginning to come in thick and fast for the biennial due to take place from May to November of next year.


The United Kingdom is the most recent country to announce their artist, having chosen a key figure of the Black-British art scene Sonia Boyce to take over their pavilion. The 58-year-old artist will become the first black woman to represent the country in Venice.


Currently the Chair of Black Art & Design at University of the Arts London, the artist and academic rose to prominence in the 1980s. Her increasingly improvisational work, spanning performance, photography, print, drawing and audio-visuals, is often deeply personal, focusing on the country’s relationship with race, class and gender. Boyce is no stranger to Venice, having participated in the late Okwui Enwezor’s main exhibition “All the World’s Futures” in 2015.


Photo by Kate Brown © artnet News.


Chair of the selection committee, Emma Dexter, commented: “Boyce’s work raises important questions about the nature of creativity, questioning who makes art, how ideas are formed, and the nature of authorship. At such a pivotal moment in the UK’s history, the committee has chosen an artist whose work embodies inclusiveness, generosity, experimentation and the importance of working together.”


A mid-career associate curator will be selected to collaborate with Boyce on the exhibition later in the year.