Throughout August, Liverpool Biennial 2023 offers a dynamic programme of performances, screenings, live activations and offerings as part of 'The Middle Passage'.

What is the Middle Passage? 

Liverpool Biennial 2023, ‘uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things’, is structured around a triangulation, mirroring the journeys undertaken during the Transatlantic trade of enslaved people. The three points within the Biennial- The Opening Door, The Middle Passage, and The Reflective Return- all operate to provide alternative entry points into ‘uMoya’ and its associated provocations. Throughout August, a series of events, talks, offerings and live performances will ignite the city, inviting audiences to interact with the spirit of ‘uMoya’.   

The festival began in June with The Opening Door, a moment focused on live art and public installations. With the arrival of August, The Middle Passage emerges and centres around movement, film and the moving image. The Middle Passage aims to create a liminal space from which to explore possibilities for healing and returns.   

What’s On during the Middle Passage? 

Unmute Dance Theatre’s dance-driven exploration  

Launching the Middle Passage, South African dance theatre company Unmute Dance Theatre present a new collaborative piece devised with local participants; Helen Cherry, Porcelain Delaney, Bogdans Demcuks & Adam John Roberts. Fresh from a stint at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival, Unmute Dance Theatre’s live activation experiments with sign language to create choreography, centring accessibility and representation. On Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August, the group will undertake performances at the Capstone Theatre, exploring the moving image in real time/space and investigating the liminal space imposed by Disability.  

Unmute Dance Theatre Performances: 

Capstone Theatre

Screenings and In-Conversations 

Exploring the moving image further, Liverpool Biennial 2023 venue FACT will play host to two screening events on Friday 4th August. ‘Moving in the Middle Passage‘ incorporates an exclusive film screening and in-conversation event to explore the art of animation, moving image and short film. Chaired and hosted by Osei Bonsu, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art of Africa at Tate Modern, this event will take the form of an artist panel discussion with Santiago Mostyn and Versia Harris, with contributions from Michelle Eistrup.

Following this, a double-bill screening from award-winning Filmmaker and Director Campbell X will take place, followed by an in-conversation with Liverpool Biennial 2023 Curator Khanyisile Mbongwa. This event aims to address heteronormative perceptions of LGBTQ+ communities in relation to Campbell X’s practice and the context of ‘uMoya’; with both films weaving together tales of ancestors, contemporary artists, political activists, and community leaders.   

Shannon Alonzo’s live redrawing  

Finally, across Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th August, Shannon Alonzo will undertake a live activation, erasing and redrawing her site-specific mural of charcoal and paint at Cotton Exchange. Alonzo’s mural, entitled ‘Mangroves’ (2023) explores the Caribbean Carnival’s relationship to space: claimed and embodied, geographic, and ideological. The erasure and redrawing of the mural offers an opportunity to catalyse healing and restore balance. 

The Middle Passage marks the second stage of Liverpool Biennial 2023’s public programme and aims to provide further insight into, and engagement with, the spirit ‘uMoya’ through an exciting series of events and offerings across the city.