Sonia Boyce ©

Sarah Weal

The British Council is pleased to announce that Sonia Boyce OBE RA has been announced to represent Great Britain at the 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia in 2022. The exhibition  will feature a major solo exhibition of new work from the artist.

Sonia Boyce is known for her highly innovative and experimental approach to art-making, using performance and audio-visual elements in her work. Since the 1990s, her practice has become increasingly improvisational and collaborative, inviting a broad cross-section of participants to come together and speak, sing or move in relation to the past and the present.

On accepting the British Council commission, Sonia Boyce commented:

“You could have knocked me down with a feather when I got the call to tell me I had been chosen to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale 2021 - it was like a bolt out of the blue. Obviously, I’m extremely honored, excited – and nervous. I’m eager to start this creative journey, exploring the experience with others who agree to work with me along the way.”

Emma Dexter, British Council Director Visual Arts, Commissioner of the British Pavilion and Chair of the British Pavilion Selection Committee, said:

“The British Council is thrilled to announce that Sonia Boyce has been commissioned to represent the UK at the Biennale Arte 2021. We are eagerly anticipating her exhibition, where collaboration, improvisation and dialogue will undoubtedly play a key role. 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”.

The British Council has been responsible for the British Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia since 1937, showcasing the best of the UK's artists, architects, designers and curators. These exhibitions, and the British Council’s Venice Fellowships initiative introduced in 2016, help make the British Pavilion a major platform for discussion about contemporary art and architecture.

Emma Ridgway has been selected as the Shane Akeroyd Associate Curator of the British Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition. Ridgway is Chief Curator at the leading contemporary arts institution Modern Art Oxford, where she has led the artistic programme of exhibitions and learning since 2015. In the role, she has overseen the first major UK exhibitions of a number of key artists, including Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid, and the paintings of Anish Kapoor, a former British representative at La Biennale di Venezia.
Ridgway was previously a curator at the Barbican Centre, the Royal Society of Arts, Serpentine Gallery and Khoj International Artists’ Association in New Delhi. Ridgway was selected from a highly competitive shortlist of ten candidates who responded to the British Council’s open call for applications in September 2020.
The final selection panel included Sonia Boyce and Emma Dexter, Director of Visual Arts at the British Council and Commissioner of the British Pavilion. This is the first curatorial post to be sponsored by British philanthropist and contemporary art collector Shane Akeroyd, who has generously pledged ten years’ worth of support for the Associate Curator of the British Pavilion art exhibitions in Venice.


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