Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

Independent Curators International supports the work of curators to help create stronger art communities through experimentation, collaboration, and international engagement.

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Curator's Perspective: Khanyisile Mbongwa

There is no table for my seat, vol. 4

Nov 6, 2023
6:30–8 pm

New York, NY, USA
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.

This event is free and open to the public. 

RSVP here

Live ASL interpretation is available at this event.

Khanyisile Mbongwa

Khanyisile Mbongwa is a Cape Town-based independent curator, award-winning artist, and sociologist who engages with her curatorial practice as Curing & Care. She is Curator of the 2023 Liverpool Biennial.

The Curator’s Perspective is a free, itinerant public talk series featuring established U.S. and international curators, who present on their work and research. It was developed to offer audiences ways to connect with timely information and a wide variety of international perspectives on contemporary art and curating today. The series sheds light on movements and models that are shaping the curatorial field today, addressing questions about art, culture, and the artists and exhibitions that curators look to.

The Curator’s Perspective series has been made possible, in part, by a grant from the James Howell Foundation and by generous contributions from the ICI Board of Trustees and ICI Access Fund. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.