Liverpool Biennial reveals 2023 theme and artists


Liverpool Biennial returns to the city next summer for its 12th edition.

The three-month event, the UK’s largest free festival of contemporary visual art, will have the theme uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things.

More than 30 national and international artists and collectives will take part in the biennial, which opens on June 10, including Albert Ibokwe Khoza, Brook Andrew, Eleng Luluan, Julien Creuzet and Raisa Kabir.

Work will be shown across the city centre including at the Bluecoat, FACT, Tate, Victoria Gallery & Museum, Open Eye Gallery and unexpected spaces which are yet to be revealed.

The festival is being curated by Khanyisile Mbongwa and Liverpool Biennial’s director Sam Lackey and the biennial team.

In the isiZulu language, uMoya means spirit, breath or wind, and organisers say the theme “addresses the history and temperament of the city of Liverpool” and is a call for “ancestral and indigenous forms of knowledge, wisdom and healing.”

Khanyisile Mbongwa, who is a Cape Town-based independent curator, said: “Wind often represents the fleeting and transient, the elusive and intangible, but I remember my first moment standing at the docks in Liverpool and feeling the wind in my bones. The same wind that made Liverpool the epicentre for the trade of enslaved people and a city that built itself through each ‘merchant’ ship.

“And I wondered, how can this wind redraw the lines of cartography as pathways for a reckoning to occur? How can it gesture towards healing through implementing systems of care that would allow for a sacred return?

"A return to self that aligns the celestial and ancestral, a return where one is not denied access to themselves, a return where all that is lost or stolen is acknowledged, remembered, accounted for, ignited and returned.”

Liverpool Biennial takes place from June 10 to September 23 2023.


Top: Charmaine Watkiss - The Matriarch/Kent Chan - Future Tropics/Ranti Bam - Ifa. Photo by Catalin Georgescu.