Free in-person event, RVSP encouraged.
November 6, 2023, 6:30–8 pm
International Center of Photography: 79 Essex Street, New York, NY 10002
As part of the Curator’s Perspective—an itinerant public discussion series featuring preeminent national and international curators—ICI welcomes Khanyisile Mbongwa, a South African curator, sociologist, Sangoma, and curator of the 2023 Liverpool Biennial, uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things.
The Biennial provided a template for how an exhibition can engage with a city and its traumas. It addressed the colonialism and enslavement embedded in Liverpool’s past, using history as a foundation and catalyst for artists’ projects that foregrounded healing and care—“uMoya” takes several meanings in the isiZulu language, including spirit, breath, air, climate, and wind. Using these concepts, and the Biennial as a whole, as starting points, Mbongwa will delve into the themes and strategies that informed her curation of the exhibition, including the deep connection between curating and curing and the curator’s responsibility to act as a custodian of spiritual, intangible things.
She will also discuss her broader curatorial approach, which she has coined “There Is No Table For My Seat.” A coded invitation to Black, African, Queer, Indigenous, and Woman modes of thought and expression, “There Is No Table For My Seat” evokes multiple forms of gathering and asks how ancestral, spiritual, and multi-modal work is recognized and compensated. It also calls for a renewed respect for Ancestral, African, Black, Brown, and Indigenous knowledges in reimagining Liverpool’s, and the world’s, futures. The talk, and Mbongwa’s approach, both highlight the hierarchies and exclusions embedded in the contemporary cultural landscape and focus attention on African and Indigenous value systems and modes of convening that dispense with the table—both physical and metaphorical—altogether.