Cape Town–Based Curator Khanyisile Mbongwa to Organize 2023 Liverpool Biennial

The organizers of the Liverpool Biennial in the United Kingdom have chosen Khanyisile Mbongwa to curate the forthcoming 2023 edition, which will mark the 25th anniversary of the exhibition and is set to run from June to September of that year.

Of Mbongwa’s appointment, Liverpool Biennial director Sam Lackey said in a statement, “Her longstanding curatorial concerns around care and repair will be vital in thinking about new futures together with the city.”

Mbongwa is an independent curator and artist based in Cape Town, South Africa, who defines her curatorial practice as “Curing & Care, using the creative to instigate spaces for emancipatory practices, joy and play,” according to a press release. She most recently served as the chief curator for the Stellenbosch Triennale 2020 in South Africa and was as an adjunct curator for performative practices at the Norval Foundation in Cape Town, where she curated a solo exhibition for artist Athi-Patra Ruga in 2020.

Other curatorial credits include “History’s Footnote: On Love & Freedom” at Marres, House for Contemporary Culture in Maastricht, the Netherlands, in 2021 and “Puncture Points,” which featured 15 artists from South Africa’s Western Cape region and showed at the Cape Town Harbour in 2017. In 2018, she had a curatorial residency at CAT Cologne (short for Community Art Team) in Germany, where she organized “BLUEPRINT: Where There’s Nowhere To Go, Where Is Home?”; in 2020, she co-curated, with Julia Haarmann, the exhibition “Process as Resistance, Resilience & Regeneration,” honoring the legacy of CAT Cologne, which closed after ten years.

As an artist, Mbongwa was a founding member of the Cape Town–based artist, music, and poetry collective Gugulective, the civic activism and social engagement–focused creative collective Vasiki Creative Citizens, and the women of color poetry collective Rioters In Session. She has also served as executive director of the Handspring Trust for Puppetry Arts.

In a statement, Mbongwa said, “I am excited to work with the Liverpool Biennial team on the 12th edition and am curious to find out what the city will show me about my curatorial processes during my time there. I am looking forward to co-creating with individuals, collectives and organisations both within Liverpool and beyond and am interested to see how the city has established itself historically, how it sustains itself in this moment and how it imagines its future.”

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