Stages #12 takes ethics surrounding modes of care as a central theme from which to expand. Care as a focus has been adopted from the wider themes of Liverpool Biennial 2023 – uMoya: The Sacred Return of Lost Things.
Stages #12: Being In The World
Stages is an open access, contemporary art journal for staging research generated in the context of Liverpool Biennial's artistic programme.
Launched in 2013, Stages is developed in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University’s Exhibition Research Lab, and is freely available in PDF format.
Liverpool Biennial, 2023
Junu Maya Tamang
Curator Khanyisile Mbongwa creates space for emancipatory practices, joy and play within the framework of her exhibitions. Utilising Mbongwa’s vision for uMoya, we can draw upon how the gallery or a Biennial reflect the way society impacts and responds to the ethics of care through language and architecture.
The four contributions to this issue of Stages, although not all directly acknowledging, are each reimaging the framework of a Biennial through a different distribution of time, care and consultation, based on need.
The title of this issue, Being in the World, is taken from Martin Heidegger’s interpretation of the Greco-Roman myth `Care’. The myth outlines how Roman goddess Cura created the human form, with contributions from Jupiter and Tellus.
Heidegger explains how the human being has its origin in care: `this being is not released from its origin, but is held fast and dominated by it, as long as this being’ is in the world. `Being-in-the-world‘ has the character of being of `care’.
The myth also explains how the name `homo’ is derived from being made of the earth – humus – and thus returning to earth. As `beings in the world’, we are at once of the earth and carers of the earth.
`The multiplicity of these (being-in) is indicated by the following examples: having to do with something, producing something, attending to something and looking after it, making use of something, giving something up and letting it go, undertaking, accomplishing, evincing, interrogating, considering, discussing, determining…. All these kind ways of Being-in have care as their kind of Being.’
In this journal, the text In the quest of understanding paper, Shivangi Bansal explores the sustainable production process of Lokta paper-making through the practice of artist Junu Maya Tamang. Sustainable production is a cyclical process.
Cyclical processes continue to inform, as Roo Dhissou writes a personal account of being overwhelmed by care work, reimagining care and support for disabled artists and communities.
(Please be aware Roo Dhissou’s article contains references to forms of abuse)
Of course, the etymology of the verb `curate’ is also intertwined here. The act or process of curating is inherently an act of care.
Where a curator’s practice does not involve working within a collection or archive, the practice then becomes one of caring for people as much as caring for artworks. Dominic Bilton’s ongoing research project Queering the Whitworth and his writings on archives and collections demonstrate a process of care and a creation of space for care that considers everybody who is included in, or who may need to access, collections databases.
Artist Leah Clements refers to hospital architecture and its poetic relationship with the architecture of gallery spaces, something which manifested in Benoît Piéron’s installation at Bluecoat for Liverpool Biennial 2023.
An important aspect of Khanyisile Mbongwa’s curatorial thinking was to allow or make space to care – both physically and metaphorically
Shivangi Bansal was a member of a cohort of international curators convened by Liverpool Biennial and the British Council and who attended Liverpool Biennial 2023. Writing in this journal represents an opportunity to reflect on that visit. Bansal references Piéron’s installation when talking about making joy and lessening pain.
Another member of that cohort, Greer Valley, has used this journal as a platform to reflect on the themes of uMoya in a different way. Through a series of conversations with the artist, Valley has drawn upon Lungiswa Gqunta’s Sleeping Pools (2023) to examine care, healing and repair through the lens of colonial violence.
The history of Liverpool will forever be interwoven with the brutalities of colonialism. As an ambassador for the city, Liverpool Biennial has a responsibility to handle that history and its reverberations with respect and care. Reparations began with Liverpool Biennial 2021 – The Stomach and the Port and have continued with the presentation of Khanyisile Mbongwa’s uMoya.