Phoebe Boswell is a Kenyan/British visual artist, based in London, whose multidisciplinary art practice is anchored to a restless state of diasporic consciousness. She merges draftsmanship with digital technologies to create layered, deeply immersive installations to centre and amplify histories which – like her own – are often systemically marginalised.
Previous critically acclaimed works include The Matter of Memory, a large-scale installation which explores the colonial history of Kenya through the personal memories and homescape of Boswell’s Kikuyu mother and British-Kenyan father; Mutumia, an interactive salute to women in history who have used their bodies when their voices have been silenced across Africa; and Dear Mr Shakespeare, in which she questions Shakespeare on the inherent racial tensions within his writing of Othello in the 1600s, and how these tensions continue to resonate today.
The Ford Foundation fellowship has supported Boswell’s ongoing practice, including video, drawing, spoken word, sound, interactive installation, and site-specific wall work, as well as critical writing. Exploring trauma, grief, diasporic consciousness, collective memory, decoloniality and what it means to belong, she has made this work between Zanzibar and her studio in London, and exhibited in various forms in London, New York, Chicago, Gothenburg, and Rome.
Exhibitions include her first solo exhibition at Sapar Contemporary in NewYork, a solo booth at Art Expo Chicago and a Special Project at 1:54 African Art Fair, NYC, as well as two concurrent large-scale solo exhibitions in public institutions; The Space Between Things at Autograph APB in London, UK, curated by Renee Mussai, and HERE at the Goteborgs Konsthall in Gothenburg, Sweden, curated by Liv Stoltz.
She has presented papers in institutions including Tate Britain, the National Portrait Gallery, The Photographers Gallery, the Royal Academy, the Goteborgs Stadtbibliotech, and the Macro Museo in Rome. She is currently exhibiting work in Zak Ove’s Get Up Stand Up Now exhibition at Somerset House, London, and Artist Film International, for which she was nominated by Whitechapel Gallery and will consequently screen her short film ‘The words I do not have yet‘ – which features the voices of various women including Wambui Mwangi, Ndinda Kioko, and provocations attributed to Audre Lorde – in art venues around the world.
She was awarded the Bridget Riley Drawing Fellowship at the British School at Rome in 2019, and will soon unveil a newly commissioned large-scale public work in Geneva.
The project will explore the complexities of blackness and ‘Africaness’ and the sense of belonging of Africa’s diaspora populations, both generationally and geographically. The project will be presented through visual languages to house the complexities of the ‘diasporic’ condition.
The project will explore personal narratives, spirituality, and ritual culture and examine how language, memory, and spirits have been transported, shared, borrowed and morphed over time due to migration and colonization.