Liverpool, renowned for its rich cultural heritage, once again takes center stage in the art world with the UK’s largest free contemporary visual arts festival. Curated by Khanyisile Mbongwa, uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things, the highly anticipated 12th edition of the Liverpool Biennial, showcases the works of 35 leading and emerging artists and collectives from 6 continents, presenting 15 new commissions.
At the heart of “uMoya” is the isiZulu word for spirit, breath, air, climate, and wind. Drawing from this diverse linguistic backdrop, the Biennial explores the potential for objects and people to manifest power as they traverse the globe, while acknowledging the profound losses caused by colonialism and slavery.
With exhibitions spanning historic locations and leading art venues, including the Tobacco Warehouse, Cotton Exchange, Tate Liverpool, Bluecoat, FACT Liverpool, Open Eye Gallery, Victoria Gallery and Museum, and World Museum, the Biennial becomes an intimate excavation of Liverpool’s history and temperament.
A key highlight of the Biennial is the striking outdoor artworks scattered throughout the city’s public spaces. These large-scale installations, including Brook Andrew’s neon work at Stanley Dock and Eleng Luluan’s monumental metal vessel at Princes Dock, reflect upon the fusion of cultural heritage and the exploration of indigenous knowledge, traditions, and identities.
The festival’s public program unfolds over 14 weeks, divided into three stages: “The Opening Door,” “The Middle Passage,” and “The Reflective Return.”
“The Opening Door” launches the festival with captivating live performances by artists such as Lorin Sookool and Raisa Kabir, while “The Middle Passage” explores moving image and short films in collaboration with Unmute Dance Theatre and Shannon Alonzo.
Liverpool Biennial 2023 is also committed to nurturing local talent. Partnering with SEVENSTORE, the Biennial offers three bursaries to local artists, enabling them to showcase their work during the final weeks of the festival. Additionally, in collaboration with The Double Negative, the festival provides an open call for under-represented early-career writers from Merseyside to produce critical writing in response to the event.
Featured Image: Antony Gormley, Another Place (2005-2023). Source: Liverpool Biennial