Sonia Boyce, In the Castle of My Skin with guest artists: Anna Barham, Kate Cooper, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Harold Offeh, Flora Parrott, Luc Pheles, and Alberta Whittle.

In the Castle of My Skin is a solo show of new commissions and existing work by Sonia Boyce, with work by seven other artists co-curated with Boyce. The exhibition is built through improvisation techniques and riffs on ways of playing in urban space. It takes shape across a large new sculptural display system that houses works by Boyce and artists including Kate Cooper, Harold Offeh, Flora Parrott and Alberta Whittle alongside selected works from the Middlesbrough Collection. The sculpture is based on the crystalline form of the mineral pyrite, known as Fool’s Gold, and is clad in wallpapers made by Boyce since the early 1990s.

In the Castle of My Skin starts with the metaphor of skin as a covering, a surface, a barrier, a marker of identity and a connector between internal and external worlds. This builds on the intersection of diverse histories as a recurring theme in Boyce’s work. The sculpture and a newly-commissioned video expand Boyce’s thinking about the speculative nature of improvisation, social bonding, visual cultures and relationships to the built environment.

Boyce is fascinated by moments of serendipity that occur when people are brought together without a script. The new video comes out of the performative laboratory of two live, public events produced at Eastside Projects in 2017 in which local skate-boarders and skate-boarding ukulele players performed. This unlikely pairing is combined with footage of female skaters shot in Middlesbrough who play and improvise, uncovering knowledge of their bodies and the town’s urban architecture.

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