Liverpool Biennial: uMoya – The Sacred Retrurn of Lost Things

Liverpool Biennal of Contemporary Art, Liverpool, United Kingdom
10 Jun 2023 - 17 Sep 2023

Rahima Gambo Film still from Instruments of Air, 2021. Courtesy the artist.

Rahima Gambo Film still from Instruments of Air, 2021. Courtesy the artist.

On Saturday 10 June, Liverpool Biennial opens its 12th edition, titled ‘uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things’, unveiling a series of exhibitions and outdoor artworks across the city. 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.

‘uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things’ is curated by Khanyisile Mbongwa and presents the work of 35 leading and emerging artists and collectives from 6 continents, including 15 new commissions. Liverpool Biennial 2023 addresses the history and temperament of the city of Liverpool and is a call for ancestral and indigenous forms of knowledge, wisdom and healing. In the isiZulu language, ‘uMoya’ means spirit, breath, air, climate and wind.

Taking place in historic locations and leading art venues, this year the Biennial presents exhibitions at Tobacco Warehouse, Cotton Exchange, Tate Liverpool, Bluecoat, FACT Liverpool, Open Eye Gallery, Victoria Gallery and Museum and World Museum.


Khanyisile Mbongwa, Curator, Liverpool Biennial 2023, said:

“‘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 and slavery towards an insistence on being truly Alive, pulling threads from East and Southern Africa, East and South Asia, North and South America, the Middle East, Oceania, and Europe. This Biennial locates itself in Liverpool not only as a provocation to the city but also as an intimate excavation of its history and temperament.”

Dr Samantha Lackey, Director, Liverpool Biennial, said:

“We are delighted to bring the spirit of ‘uMoya’ to the city of Liverpool in this, 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 both connects to Liverpool’s colonial past but also uncovers possibilities for joy, healing, and aliveness in its future.

I would like to thank Khanyisile Mbongwa who has brought not only her thinking but also her feeling and care to the city and to us as an organisation over the past months. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the artists who have brought so much passion and imagination to this extraordinary Biennial. As we commemorate our 25-year history through this truly remarkable edition, we continue to be grateful to our cultural partners and venues who work with us across the city generously collaborating on our programme. Finally, I would like to thank our funders, in particular Arts Council England and Liverpool City Council, without whom the festival would not be possible.”


The participating artists for Liverpool Biennial 2023 are:

Albert Ibokwe Khoza (South Africa); Antonio Obá (Brazil); Belinda KazeemKamiński (Austria); Benoît Piéron (France); Binta Diaw (Senegal/Italy); Brook Andrew (Wiradjuri/Australia); Charmaine Watkiss (UK); David Aguacheiro (Mozambique); Edgar Calel (Guatemala); Eleng Luluan (Rukai Nation/Taiwan); Fátima Rodrigo Gonzales (Peru); Francis Offman (Italy/Rwanda); Gala PorrasKim (Colombia/USA); Guadalupe Maravilla (El Salvador/USA); Isa do Rosário (Brazil); Julien Creuzet (Martinique/France); Katy’taya Catitu Tayassu (Brazil/France); Kent Chan (Singapore/The Netherlands); Lorin Sookool (South Africa); Lubaina Himid (UK); Lungiswa Gqunta (South Africa); Melanie Manchot (Germany/UK); Nicholas Galanin (USA); Nolan Oswald Dennis (South Africa/Zambia); Pamela Phatsimo Sunstrum (Botswana/Canada/The Netherlands); Rahima Gambo (Nigeria); Rahmi Hamzi (Palestine); Raisa Kabir (UK/Bangladesh); Ranti Bam (Nigeria/UK); Rudy Loewe (UK); Sandra Suubi (Uganda); Sepideh Rahaa (Iran/Finland); Shannon Alonzo (Trinidad & Tobago); Torkwase Dyson (USA); Unmute Dance Theatre (South Africa).


Find C&s interview with Khanyisile Mbongwa about the 12th Liverpool Biennial HERE.


All content © 2024 Contemporary And. All Rights Reserved. Website by SHIFT