Sonia Boyce (born in 1962) came to prominence in the early 1980s as a key figure in the burgeoning Black-British art-scene of that time – becoming one of the youngest artists of her generation to have her work purchased by Tate, with paintings that spoke about racial identity and gender in Britain.
Her works have subsequently been purchased by several public collections. Since the 1990s, Boyce’s practice has taken a more multimedia and improvisational turn by bringing people together to speak or sing about the past and the present.
Since 1983, Boyce has exhibited extensively throughout the UK and internationally. An abbreviated account of exhibitions and monographs include: ‘Sonia Boyce: Speaking in Tongues’ (Gilane Tawadros, Kala Press, 1997); ‘Annotations 2/Sonia Boyce: Performance’ (Mark Crinson, Iniva – the Institute of International Visual Arts, 1998); ‘Video Positive: the other side of zero’, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool (2000); ‘Recent Sonia Boyce: la, la, la’, Reed College, Portland-Oregon (2001); ‘Century City: art and culture in the modern metropolis’, Tate Modern, London (2001); ‘Sharjah International Biennial 7’, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2005); ‘Devotional’, National Portrait Gallery, London (2007); ‘Crop Over’, Harewood House, Leeds and Barbados Museum & Historical Society (2007/2008); ‘For you, only you’ (Paul Bonaventura, Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, Oxford University and tour, 2007/2008); ‘Praxis: Art in Times of Uncertainty’, Thessaloniki Biennial 2, Greece (2009); ‘Like Love’, Spike Island, Bristol and tour (Green Box Press, Berlin, 2010); ‘Afro Modern’, Tate Liverpool and tour (2010); ‘The Impossible Community’, Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2011); ‘Play! Recapturing the Radical Imagination’, Göteborg International Biennial of Contemporary Art 7 (2013); and, ‘All the World’s Futures’, 56th Venice Biennale (2015).
In 2007, David A Bailey, Ian Baucom and Sonia Boyce jointly received the History of British Art Book Prize (USA) for the edited volume ‘Shades of Black: Assembling Black Art in 1980s Britain’, published by Duke University Press in collaboration with Iniva – the Institute of International Visual Arts, and AAVAA – the African & Asian Visual Artists Archive. In the same year she was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, for her services to art. Boyce has recently completed an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Fellowship at Wimbledon College of Arts, University of the Arts London (UAL) with her concluding research project ‘The Future is Social’. She is currently Professor of Fine Art at Middlesex University, in the School of Art & Design, Chair of Black Art & Design across the six colleges of UAL, and Principal Investigator for the AHRC-funded project ‘Black Artists & Modernism’ (UAL/Middlesex University, London).
Curator, Okwui Enwezor invited Sonia Boyce as one of the artists for the 56th Venice Biennale, where she presented ‘Exquisite Cacophony’ (2015).
Charles Andrew Bothwell (born in 1981), better known by his stage name Astronautalis, is an American alternative hip-hop artists currently based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
After gaining some recognition in local circles in Jacksonville, Florida and competing at Scribble Jam, Astronautalis self-released his debut album, You and Yer Good Ideas, in 2003. He eventually signed with Fighting Records and the record was re-released in 2005, followed by his second album, The Mighty Ocean and Nine Dark Theaters, in 2006. He released the third album, Pomegranate, on Eyeball Records in 2008. In winter 2009, he toured with the Canadian indie rock band Tegan and Sara through Europe, and supported them again through the spring of 2010 in Australia. His fourth album, This Is Our Science, was released on Fake Four Inc. in 2011. He is a descendant of James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, which is one of the reasons why his lyrics often deal with historical fiction. Andy has worked with Sonia Boyce on a previous performance-based project called Exquisite Cacophony with the vocalist Elaine Mitchener (2015).
Michelle Tofi graduated from London Metropolitan University with a first class honours degree in Film and Broadcast Production in 2011. Since then she has specialised in cinematography and self-shooting, having content she shot for BBC Worldwide screened in 76 million homes across the globe, and travelling to shoot in France, Sweden, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar. Her corporate clients have included Ray-Ban, the Gaurdian, YouTube and Adidas although her passion is for fiction and art filmmaking, and she has collaborated extensively with artist Sonia Boyce, MBE on three video projects. Michelle is also keenly interested in documentary work, and is currently producing her first feature length documentary, “Drag it Out in the Open ».
Richard Thomas is a Sound Recordist and Musician. He’ll record most sounds (within reason) and a number of them have been featured on TV, film and videos on the internet (some feature cats). He will sometimes make noises (sometimes under duress). He has been accused of making Art before. His favourite cake is Battenburg. He regularly refers to himself in the third person.
Vânia Gala (born in 1972) is a choreographer and researcher. She holds a BA in Dance from the European Dance Development Center, Hogeschool voor Kunst-Arnhem (Netherlands), and a MAC with Distinction from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Since 2015, she is a PhD candidate at Kingston University, having been awarded a FASS studentship. Gala’s choreographies, scores and performance-lectures explore the potential of absence (and the non-human) through acts of withdrawal, auscultation procedures and acts of attending to invisible things and systems as central players of the performance. Her choreographical work ‘Automatic Id’ (AID) has been performed since its premiere in Angola in Portugal, Norway, Germany, Ireland, the UK and the Russian Federation. In 2005, (AID) was awarded the “Best Female Performance” at the Dublin Fringe Festival, was part of Aerowaves Festival (London) and the 1st Triennial of Luanda (Angola). In 2007, she performed at the 1st African Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. ‘MiamiLuanda’ premiered at Teatro Académico Gil Vicente (2009) and was presented at the Portuguese Platform for Performative Arts 09’, curated by Rui Horta. 8˚ 10’ 30” was performed at TAGV and at Centro Cultural de Belém (2010). Recent collaborations in the visual arts includes working with Sonia Boyce in ‘Dance of Belém’ (2010) at the Centro Cultural de Belém, curated by Paul Goodwin (Tate), and subsequently presented at Georgia Scherman Projects, Toronto (2012). Also in 2012, she created ‘Invited Guests’, performed at Bonnie Bird Theatre. More recent projects include ‘Cooling Down Signs’, a Pan-European commission by Beyond Front@ performed at Dance Week Festival, Zagreb (HR), D. I. D (AT), Front@ Festival (SI), Bakelit (HU) and ’35 Days of Nothing to Say’, an ongoing research project performed at The Place and Dance 4 (UK). Her writings are featured in ‘Emergency Index’ and in the Angolan Pavilion catalogue for the 56th Venice Biennale (2015).