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October 1, 2022–March 12, 2023
The South African composer and artist Neo Muyanga’s debut solo exhibition, A Mass of Cyborgs, is on display at the Center for Art, Research, and Alliances (CARA). Aiming to broaden public discourses and historical records to reflect the wealth of pasts, present, and futures in art, the new arts nonprofit, research center, and publisher launched on October 1st.
The show, which was organized by Manuela Moscoso, Executive Director and Chief Curator of CARA, investigates and reclaims the sounds that make up the history of protest songs in the Pan-African context. A Mass of Cyborgs brings together new and old works, deepening Muyanga’s engagement with songs as a catalyst for action, a tool to be used, and as material that can be enacted to inspire radical change. It explores how sound and voice can radiate empowerment, invoke historical and personal memory, and hold firm as archives of knowledges that ring out against both covert and overt systems of separation, dominance, and oppression.
Shifting figures weave through generations and timescales as a Greek chorus might in one of the exhibition’s works, a new commission titled Hymn to the Strange, collectively narrating both the submission and precarity of their lives and the strength of their resistance amidst such vast, indeterminate, and frequently unforeseeable forces. In a joint effort with Tyrone Clinton Jr.’s community-based music group The Unsung, Hymn to the Strange honors the stories of the Black experience.
It was created live at CARA’s facility and included three live choir rehearsal-performances every other Saturday (barring a few holidays) through March 2023, along with a sound installation, video animations created in cooperation with Bianca Turner, and a sound installation. The biweekly performances will change and evolve during the show as a result of ongoing communication between The Unsung and Muyanga. Visitors are welcome to participate whenever they’d like. A complete schedule of days is accessible here. Between the 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. performances of Hymn to the Strange on October 15, Muyanga and Moscoso will speak at CARA at 3 p.m. about songs, cyborgs, and the production of the exhibition.
The exhibition also features older pieces, such as A Maze in Grace (2021), by Muyanga, which is being shown in the US for the first time. The piece, which was previously presented at the Liverpool and Sao Paulo Biennials, revisits “Amazing Grace,” one of the most well-known and often sung melodies in music history. The song became well-known for its part in the development of Black musical identity and in the struggle for abolition when it was written and composed in 1772 by John Newton, a repentant slave-trader seeking redemption. In addition, Muyanga exhibits a variant of his 2019 tribute to exiled South African jazz diva Miriam Makeba, House of MAKEdbA.
Along with the artworks Muyanga displayed, CARA recently published Marilyn Nance: Last Day in Lagos, a photobook by the Brooklyn-based artist. The book was edited by Oluremi C. Onabanjo and co-published with Fourthwall Books. It was shortlisted for the 2022 Paris-Photo Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards and included an introduction by Julie Mehretu as well as a lengthy conversation between Nance and Onabanjo.
During the times specified above, CARA invites guests to its bookstore and exhibition gathering areas.
Center for Art, Research and Alliances (CARA)
225 West 13th Street
10011 New York NY
Hours: Wednesday–Saturday 11am–6pm,