Phoebe Boswell’s performance ‘Mothering Memory’


For the launch of Collective Intimacy at The Showroom, artist Phoebe Boswell performed Mothering Memory with Joyce Boswell

For the launch of Collective Intimacy at The Showroom, artist Phoebe Boswell performed Mothering Memory with Joyce Boswell.

This new performance commission departed from her piece The Matter of Memory from 2014. This immersive multimedia installation drew from conversations with both her parents about their memories of Kenya, with audiences invited to discover hidden narratives about family, love, and delicate senses of belonging amidst the backdrop of Kenya’s violent colonial history. In this site-specific live re-telling, Boswell responds to The Showroom’s ethos of collaboration and commitment to communal knowledge, igniting her mother’s original transcript in a harmonic act of re-receiving messages from the past with a new reflection on intergenerational memory, Black womanhood, emancipation passages, and what exists between.

In Mothering Memory Phoebe Boswell explores the sense of ‘belonging’ and is anchored to a restless state of diasporic consciousness, combining traditional drawing with digital technology. Her practice draws on her own experiences of belonging, having been born in Kenya and brought up in the Arabian Gulf; she now lives and works in London. She creates powerful images, animations and immersive installations in works that layer drawing, animation, sound, video, interactivity, and most recently, performance. These works are created in an effort to find new languages robust yet open and multifaceted enough to house, centre and amplify voices and histories which, like her own, are often systemically marginalised or sidelined as ‘other’.*

Phoebe Boswell was born in Nairobi to a Kikuyu mother and British Kenyan father, brought up in the Arabian Gulf, and now living and working in London, makes work anchored to a restless state of diasporic consciousness. Her work has been exhibited widely, including Tiwani Contemporary and Autograph London, SAPAR Contemporary, New York; Sundance Film Festivals, Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art 2015, and Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement 2016, amongst others. She received the Future Generation Art Prize’s Special Prize in 2017, consequently exhibiting in the Collateral Events programme at the 57th Venice Biennale. Boswell will unveil a new large-scale public moving image work in Geneva and a solo exhibition at New Art Exchange, Nottingham - postponed opening dates until further notice considering the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

Images: Phoebe Boswell, Mothering Memory Performance Documentation, 2019. Courtesy of The Showroom

This programme took place within Theaster Gates’s installation Black Image Corporation presented by Prada, The Vinyl Factory, and The Showroom. Collective Intimacy is inspired by Gates’s ethos of collaboration and The Showroom’s commitment to togetherness and communal knowledge, taking on multiple trans-located narratives of the current Black experience as a point of departure for a cosmopolitan worldview. In response to Gates’s reactivated spaces in Chicago and how his socially engaged projects enable communities to connect and grow, Collective Intimacy aimed to create a new space for people to gather, listen, converse, and contemplate amongst a fusion of art, design, music, and everyday life. At 180 The Strand, Phoebe Boswell presented two performances The Lighthouse, an immersive live performance soundscape of invited women collectively reading from their gathered texts.

Black Image Corporation presented distinct spaces creating a myriad of possibilities for collective engagements, featuring an installation of Gates’s art objects, furnishings, and new films that capture the methodologies of urban renewal and community activation founding his practice. Pieces from Chicago imbued with powerful histories, uses, and localities resonated with distinctive lounge design from here in London – like a love letter between two cities, under the roof of a new House. Taking place at both 180 The Strand and The Showroom, Collective Intimacy hosted interdisciplinary interventions by artists, musicians, designers, writers, thinkers, collectives and members of the public, who were all invited to distort notions of selfhood and togetherness in the spirit of creating a global community.

Image: Phoebe Boswell, The Matter of Memory, 2014, Installation view Hasselblad Center, GIBCA 2015. Photo: Hendrik Zeitler



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