Exhibition for the Arnolfini Bristol: A Picture of Health? Women Photographers from the Hyman Collection
Three Legs of Tights Stuffed With Afro Hair
UltraHD photo print on aluminium dibond
80 x 80 cms (31.44 x 31.44 ins)
Photographed in 1994, printed by Sonia Boyce in 2015 and sold in 2020 for Maggie's Charity.
Number 1 from the edition of 5.
Over the Covid crisis, we have sought to support a wide range of charity fundraisers. The present work was included in a charity aucton to raise money for the cancer charity Maggies, which offers free support to anyone with cancer and their families .
In July 2020 Christie's partnered with Maggie's, the cancer charity, to present a selection of artworks that have been generously donated by over 50 contemporary artists, designers and architects. In a statement Maggie's wrote: "Art and design have always been integral to Maggie's. In each of our unique centres, artworks are chosen to help create a special environment for our visitors. We are fortunate to collaborate with leading contemporary artists who seek to bring inspiration, solace and hope through the work they create. This commitment to the therapeutic power of art extends to our programme, and our visitors take part in regular art therapy sessions." More information can be found at https://www.maggies.org/about-us/
The present work is one of many by Sonia Boyce which address aspects of the body, especially the representation of the black body. As Sophie Orlando has written:
"The dividing of the body, the body-part, is a recurring motif in the works of Sonia Boyce in which hair, the mouth and the tongue are analysed as areas of the body that crystallises identity. Boyce plays with the codes for representing the 'woman' in Hollywood cinema and the construction of the desirous male gaze, a subject widely covered by Laura Mulvey. In Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, Mulvey analyses the way in which the construction of female figures in cinema are determined by the patriarchal order to satisfy the voyeuristic impulses of the spectator - who is assumed to be male. The eroticism of the heel in Oh Adelaide seems to echo an earlier artwork, the series of four photographs of the inside of the mouth, Tongues (1997). This treatment of the body can be compared to the motif of the autonomous organ used by the surrealist poet Georges Bataille, who found his visual equivalents in the surrealist photographs of Jacques-André Boiffard, investing autonomous body-parts as having independent narrative potential. In fact, he likes to project these organs: the mouth, the eye, the toe, as in the History of the Eye, as an erotically charged, yet grotesque entity, constructed via the metamorphoses of the eye... In 1995 Sonia Boyce created a series of objects from cut hair, such as Three Legs of Tights Stuffed with Hair (1995), commenting: "when I was producing them, I was thinking that they were disgusting". Cut hair is already likened to decapitation or the loss of part of one's body. The question of abjection and transgressive bodies, allows us to rethink and rewrite, not only the story of Adelaide Hall, but invariably the status of representations of black females resulting from the era of slavery and continuing throughout colonial history. Here the abject is not just a representation of the body but is the spectre of a historic malaise, a shameful memory that also informs collective memory. De-categorisation and sacrifice induces both a reflection on the eroticised black body but also on the (effaced) social body of the black female artist in Britain.
(Sophie Orlando, "Sonia Boyce: sound, tension and the sacred" in Scat - Sonia Boyce: Sound and Collaboration, Iniva, 2013)