The reviewer pays close attention to the conceptual strategies present in a new body of work by Phoebe Boswell. Produced for a solo exhibition in 2017 at Tiwani Contemporary, London, the work builds on the artist’s exploration of drawing, animation, and technology. The exhibition title, Phoebe Boswell: For Every Real Word Spoken, is taken from Audre Lorde’s essay, “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” (1977). The exhibition is composed of a series of eight drawings of eight female figures, an animation, and ephemeral drawings and texts on the gallery walls. Each sitter, who is unclothed and meets the viewer’s gaze in a feminist gesture, holds a mobile phone inscribed with a barcode. Viewers can scan the barcodes from their smartphones via a QR scanner in order to access a digital space. The reviewer stages a subjective and experiential encounter with the work as she focuses on spatial dynamics and the ethics and politics of audience participation. The work expands political and ethical questions about woman as “sign” and the tensions that exist within the idea of woman as a collective “we.” The reviewer foregrounds the dense intertextuality of Boswell’s practice, which brings histories and experiences across temporal and geographical sites into a relation. The reviewer draws from Sara Ahmed’s Living a Feminist Life (2017) as she engages the work as a site of feminist memory. She positions Ahmed’s performative, autobiographical, political, and theoretical encounter with bodies that are not accommodated by normative social, political, and institutional spaces in dialogue with Boswell’s work.
Yvette Greslé; For Every Real Word Spoken. Nka 1 November 2017; 2017 (41): 188–191. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10757163-4271838
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