The 12th edition of Liverpool Biennial ‘uMoya: The sacred Return of Lost Things’ 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.

Nolan Oswald Dennis’s (SMACT ’18) practice explores ‘a black consciousness of space’ – the material and metaphysical conditions of decolonization – questioning histories of space and time through system-specific, rather than site-specific interventions.

Their work ‘No conciliation is possible (working diagram)’ (2018 – ongoing) is next in their series of installations consisting of map-like wall diagrams and a shifting selection of drawings and objects which amplify the diagrams’ contents. Dennis explores the hidden structures that determine the limits of our social and political imagination. Within the diagram, the meanings of terms such as ‘welcomed and unwelcomed’, ‘apology’, ‘land’, ‘country’, ‘home’, ‘dream’ ‘ancestor’, ‘inheritance’ and ‘healing’ are complicated by their shared and unshared meanings. Meanwhile, the use of terms like ‘reconciliation’, ‘reparations’, ‘repatriation’, ‘regeneration’, ‘compensation’ and ‘justice’ can be seen as a condition and limitation of imagining a world beyond our reality. The artist is concerned with a ‘Black consciousness of space’, questioning the politics of space and time. In particular, the work examines how decolonizsation, colonial compensation and conciliation exist throughout history, in the present and into the future. It is on view at the Tate Liverpool.

The festival 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.

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, a dynamic programme of free exhibitions, performances, screenings, community events, learning activities and fringe events unfolds over 14 weeks, shining a light on the city’s vibrant cultural scene. Liverpool Biennial 2023 is curated by Khaniyisile Mbongwa.

About Nolan Oswald Dennis:
Nolan Oswald Dennis (they/them) holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and a Science Master’s degree in Art, Culture and Technology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Their work has been featured in exhibitions at the Goodman Gallery (Johannesburg, Cape Town, London), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), MACBA (Barcelona), AutoItaliaSouthEast (London), CAN (Neuchatel), the Young Congo Biennale (Kinshasa) among others. They are a founding member of artist group NTU and Index Literacy Program (ILP), as well as a research associate at the VIAD research centre at the University of Johannesburg.

About Khaniyisile Mbongwa:
Khanyisile Mbongwa (she/her) is a Cape Town-based independent curator, award-winning artist and sociologist who engages with her curatorial practice as Curing & Care, using the creative to instigate spaces for emancipatory practices, joy and play.

Mbongwa is the curator of Puncture Points, founding member and curator of Twenty Journey and former Executive Director of Handspring Trust Puppets. She is one of the founding members of arts collective Gugulective, Vasiki Creative Citizens and WOC poetry collective Rioters In Session. Mbongwa was a Mellon Foundation Fellow at the Institute of Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town, where she completed her masters in Interdisciplinary Arts, Public Art and the Public Sphere, and has worked locally and internationally. She is also currently a PhD candidate at UCT where her work focuses on spatiality, radical black self love and imagination, and black futurity.

Formerly Chief Curator of the 2020 Stellenbosch Triennale, her other recent projects include: Process as Resistance, Resilience & Regeneration – a group exhibition co-curated with Julia Haarmann honoring a decade of CAT Cologne (2020), Athi-Patra Ruga’s solo at Norval Foundation titled iiNyanka Zonyaka (The Lunar Songbook) (2020) and a group exhibition titled History’s Footnote: On Love & Freedom at Marres, House for Contemporary Culture in Maastricht, Netherlands (2021).