press release

uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things
Liverpool Biennial 2023
June 10–September 17, 2023

The artist list and theme for Liverpool Biennial 2023, the UK’s largest free festival of contemporary visual art, have been announced.

Titled uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things, the Biennial festival will take place June 10–September 17, 2023, curated by Khanyisile Mbongwa with Director Sam Lackey and Liverpool Biennial Team.

In the isiZulu language, “uMoya” means spirit, breath, air, climate and wind. uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things addresses the history and temperament of the city of Liverpool; it is a call for ancestral and indigenous forms of knowledge, wisdom and healing.

Khanyisile Mbongwa, Curator, Liverpool Biennial 2023, said: “Wind often represents the fleeting and transient, the elusive and intangible, but I remember my first moment standing at the docks in Liverpool and feeling the wind in my bones. The same wind that made Liverpool the epicentre for the trade of enslaved people and a city that built itself through each ‘merchant’ ship. And I wondered, how can this wind redraw the lines of cartography as pathways for a reckoning to occur? How can it gesture towards healing through implementing systems of care that would allow for a sacred return? A return to self that aligns the celestial and ancestral, a return where one is not denied access to themselves, a return where all that is lost or stolen is acknowledged, remembered, accounted for, ignited and returned”

uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things explores the ways in which people and objects have the potential to manifest power as they move across the world, while acknowledging the continued losses of the past. It draws a line from the ongoing Catastrophes caused by colonialism towards an insistence on being truly Alive.

uMoya eases the way for breathing to be a passage for the mourning, the ancestral, the spiritual and the intellectual, enabling a move towards emancipation. More than 30 international artists and collectives have been invited to engage with uMoya as a compass, divine intervention, and thoroughfare.

Taking over historic buildings, unexpected spaces and art galleries, the Biennial has been transforming the city through art for over two decades. A dynamic programme of free exhibitions, performances, screenings, community and learning activities and fringe events unfolds over 14 weeks, shining a light on the city’s vibrant cultural scene.

The Biennial programme is presented in locations across Liverpool, working in public spaces, historic sites and with the city’s leading art venues including Bluecoat, FACT Liverpool, National Museums Liverpool, Open Eye Gallery, Tate Liverpool and Victoria Gallery & Museum. Further venues and sites will be announced in spring 2023.

Sam Lackey, Director, Liverpool Biennial, said: “I am excited to bring the spirit of uMoya to the city of Liverpool for our 12th edition in 2023, our 25th anniversary year. At this moment of global instability, the vision and experience of our curator Khanyisile Mbongwa brings a perspective of historic acknowledgement that ultimately proposes alternative futures for our world. The geographical breadth of artists will provide new perspectives on our city that acknowledge its past and continued effects on the world and suggests new modes of repair, freedom and joy. We look forward to working with our partners across the city to deliver the festival, bringing 14 weeks of engaging visual arts programming to regional, national and international visitors.”

Participating artists confirmed to date: Albert Ibokwe Khoza; Antonio Obá; Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński; Benoît Piéron; Binta Diaw; Brook Andrew; Charmaine Watkiss; David Aguacheiro; Eleng Luluan; Fátima Rodrigo Gonzales; Francis Offman; Gala Porras-Kim; Isa do Rosário; Julien Creuzet; Katy'taya Catitu Tayassu; Kent Chan; Lorin Sookool; Lungiswa Gqunta; Melanie Manchot; Nicholas Galanin; Nolan Oswald Dennis; Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum; Rahima Gambo; Rahmi Hamzi; Raisa Kabir; Ranti Bam; Rudy Loewe; Sandra Suubi; Sepideh Rahaa; Shannon Alonzo; Torkwase Dyson; Unmute Dance Theatre.