Audio transcript

Sonia Boyce 'From Tarzan to Rambo: English Born 'Native' Considers her Relationship to the Constructed/Self-Image and her Roots in Reconstruction'

Narrator: This 'In Focus' display examines representations of race and colour and what they reveal about cultural stereotyping. The display takes its lead from the large painting in this room by the British artist Sonia Boyce. The painting is called 'From Tarzan to Rambo: English Born 'Native' Considers her Relationship to the Constructed/Self Image and her Roots in Reconstruction'. Here's Sonia Boyce on the ideas behind it:

It takes, I suppose, as it's starting point some of the films of Val Lewton, who did kind of thrillers in which mystery and suspense and magic, supposedly, were at the heart of the films, particularly those films where the 'dark' was always considered to have sinister qualities. So the female character, who is myself, is this woman who's in this trance-like state, evoking the sense of the jungle and voodoo and all those kind of images that those films perpetuated. And it was an attempt to kind of deconstruct what I felt was going on in those films, the repetitive motifs in those films. And Tarzan films seem very close to some of those Val Lewton films in terms of the question of adventure and the wild. And I always found him a very curious figure, wanting to know why he was there supposedly in the middle of Africa, in the jungle somewhere, that he was a curious form of whiteness in that space, that he was closer to nature than the so-called natives, but he was very heroic. So I was very interested in why or what he was doing there and what he might represent. So he appears not really as a fully formed figure in the piece. He almost disappears actually and he's painted rather than being a photograph and he's much more cartoon-like than the photographic images of this female figure who's repeated across the whole piece.