Sonia Boyce: In the Castle of My Skin

Sonia Boyce: In the Castle of My Skin

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

June 11, 2021
Sonia Boyce
In the Castle of My Skin
June 11–October 10, 2021
Digital launch with Sonia Boyce: June 10, 6–7pm
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
Centre Square
Middlesbrough TS1 2AZ
United Kingdom
Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10am–4:30pm,
Thursday 10am–7pm,
Sunday 12–4pm

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With Saelia Aparicio, Simeon Barclay, Anna Barham, Emma Bennett, Kev Howard, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Harold Offeh, Flora Parrott, Penny Payne, Alberta Whittleand Kenizzi Yamalimbu.

Register for the digital launch with Sonia Boyce. View the recorded film here.

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (MIMA) reopens with an exhibition created with Sonia Boyce that incorporates works by 12 contemporary artists and 50 pieces selected from the Middlesbrough Collection.

In the Castle of My Skin offers an arena of improvisation and play; a multi-faceted structure unfolds across MIMA’s galleries, clad in wallpapers made by Boyce and holding works by other artists. 

The exhibition has been put together with Boyce through a process of improvisation, with one decision informing the next and creating a chain of connections. The associative presentation of works from the 1950s to today encourages the viewer to find links across artworks from different eras made in a range of materials. The theme of skin—as a covering, surface, barrier and marker of identity—weaves through the exhibition.

Some works ask questions about what we remember, individually and as a society. A dynamic five-meter-high wall painting by Emma Bennett responding to the modernist architecture of a now-demolished local library is paired with prints by Bridget Riley originally displayed in the same library. Alberta Whittle’s video between a whisper and a cry draws connections between the legacies of colonialism and contemporary experiences of climate change in the Caribbean.

Many of the artists use movement, improvisation, repetition and play to consider how the body connects with its environment and other living beings. Photographs by Kev Howard show the intricate designs of prosthetic limbs, while Harold Offeh’s Selfie Choreography video invites visitors to explore the exhibition using selfie-sticks and cameras to think about technology as an extension of the body and how we perform our identities.

A newly-commissioned film by Boyce follows skateboarders in Birmingham and the Tees Valley as they improvise and play. The skaters attune their bodies to each other and the surrounding architecture, making new soundscapes and choreographies. They read the built environment for opportunities and interactions.

Boyce’s long association with MIMA began with the acquisition of a key early work in 1987: She Ain’t Holding Them Up, She’s Holding On (Some English Rose), 1986. Through 2019–20 Boyce collaborated with MIMA through the Black Artists & Modernism research project to audit the collection for contributions by black artists. In 2020 MIMA was awarded Boyce’s landmark artwork Devotional Wallpaper and Placards, 2008-2020 through the Contemporary Art Society Rapid Response Fund, in partnership with Frieze London.

This exhibition is part of MIMA’s “Open House” summer programme of in person and digital events, making challenges, socials and workshops. Together Now, the first ever exhibition of graduates from the MIMA School of Art & Design, launches on 22 July and is accompanied by an extensive public programme. Produced and created with alumni, the exhibition is fuelled by the theme of creative solidarity and collaboration. 

Sonia Boyce (OBE, RA) will represent the UK at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia in 2022. Among numerous solo and group exhibitions both internationally and in the UK, her recent solo shows have included Manchester Art Gallery (2018), ICA, London (2017), Villa Arson, Nice (2016). Boyce is a Professor at University of the Arts London, where she holds the inaugural Chair in Black Art & Design.

The exhibition is organised in partnership with Eastside Projects with new works co-commissioned by Eastside Projects and MIMA, with support from The Henry Moore Foundation and Elephant Trust. 

MIMA puts art into action by connecting art, people and ideas. We are an international art gallery and museum. We commission, collect and re-think modern and contemporary art. We make creative, civic space. MIMA works closely with local and global partners to put art into action. We build public participation. A cultural and community hub, ethics of equity, diversity and inclusion drive our work. We are part of Teesside University and lead the MIMA School of Art & Design through which undergraduate and postgraduate students’ learning is embedded within the creative life of MIMA.

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Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art
June 11, 2021

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