Artist Phoebe Boswell explores what ‘home’ is, migration, family and Kenya’s troubled past

Artist Phoebe Boswell explores what ‘home’ is, migration, family and Kenya’s troubled past

True Africa

Phoebe Boswell is one of the most exciting young artists working today. Her moving-image installation, The Matter of Memory, was exhibited at Carroll / Fletcher Gallery in London in 2014 alongside John Akomfrah and Rashaad Newsome. She is involved in Paul Goodwin’s African Diaspora Artists of the 21st Century project and is currently collaborating with Binyavanga Wainaina on a digital literary project called Since Everything Suddens in the Hurricane.

Her work mainly focuses on ‘transient middle points and passages of migration’, hardly surprising given her upbringing. She was born in Kenya, she spent most of her childhood in the Middle East before coming to London where she now lives and works. She took some time to tell us about her exhibition at the Gothenburg Biennale where she recreated her grandmother’s living room and what’s next for her.

Could you tell us about the Gothenburg Biennale and your piece?

The theme of GIBCA this year is A Story Within a Story, a title allows us as artists the opportunity to really play with the construction of storytelling. Elvira Dyangani Ose is at the curatorial helm of GIBCA and has offered us this title with the aim of contesting history, of rewriting it from new and perhaps previously silenced vantage points.

Curatorially, she has brought together works that seek to re-examine and possibly debunk predetermined histories, histories constructed in stuffy seats of power in order to control the collective memory of who we are, where we are, why we are, and how we came to be. The question she and the Biennale are asking the audience is: ‘If you could rewrite history, what would you do?’ It’s a very participatory experience. It’s a Biennale full of works which demand the audience to be active.

The Matter of Memory Courtesy of GIBCA ©Hendrik Zeitler

My piece in it is an immersive installation called The Matter of Memory. Within the Hasselblad Centre of the Gothenburg Art Museum, I have recreated my grandmother’s living room and filled the fabric of it – its wallpaper, teacups, milk pots, lamps, mantelpiece etc – with drawings, props, sculptures, sound and animated projections based on stories my Kikuyu mother and fourth generation British Kenyan father told me of their childhood memories of ‘home’…

Read the entire interview here.

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