The performance A Maze in Grace by Neo Muyanga (1974, Johannesburg, South Africa) which kicked off the programming of the 34th Bienal de São Paulo, in February 2020, will unfold in other actions along 2020 and 2021. A video-installation created from the performance was part of the exhibition Wind, and will soon be presented at the 11th edition of Liverpool Biennial: The Stomach and the Port, a partner institution of the 34th Bienal de São Paulo. Curated by Manuela Moscoso, the Liverpool Biennial has been rescheduled to take place from 20 March to 6 June 2021.
Created and directed by the sound artist and librettist Neo Muyanga, the performance brings a brand new song composed by him and inspired by the classic “Amazing Grace”. Muyanga’s work A Maze in Grace proposes a deconstruction under a new perspective of this song composed in 1772 by John Newton, a white British slave trader who converted to become an abolitionist Anglican pastor at the end of the 18th century after a series of near-death experiences – a narrative that Muyanga became to know during one of his visits to Liverpool. The project also incorporates a new 12” vinyl record, A Grace Project, produced in collaboration with SAVVY Contemporary.
“Many people in the world believe that this song talks about the feeling of being a slave, but it is a political song, from a political church, composed by a pastor who had been a slave trader,” Muyanga explains. “This work shows music in different ways, with a multiplicity of voices and looks, and can give people reflections on marginalization and the history of African-american people,” says Muyanga on the occasion of his performance at the 34th Bienal de São Paulo, in February 2020.
Caroline A. Jones, Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).