Sharjah Art Foundation

Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present

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Photo credits: Sarah Imsand


Faustin Linyekula is a contemporary dancer and choreographer who imposes formal structure on his work as derived from the West African dance style of Ndombolo and incorporates its quick, syncopated rhythms. Through his choreographies, Linyekula addresses notions of loss, memory and its suppression, as encountered through legacies of war and terror. Exploring the fear associated with violent conflict and its debilitating effect on communities, he expresses the affective qualities of lived and shared experiences through movement.

For Sharjah Biennial 15, Linyekula presents My body, my archive (2023). An exploration of personhood, the work interrogates his artistic output and revisits his own embodied experiences as a living archive and vessel to tell stories over the years. Co-produced by Théâtre National de la danse, Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne, the work wonders about Linyekula’s Congolese ancestors, attempting to unearth the suppressed stories of all the invisible women of generations past. For this, Linyekula centres the village he has been working with on the banks of the Congo River and turns to its local artist Gbaga, communally referred to as the ‘prince of sculptors’, whose wooden sculptures are said to reanimate the spirits of deceased ancestors. A project of personal memory, Gbaga sculpts the missing women of Linyekula’s maternal clan, whose archive is displaced between the island of Tabakili and Kisangani. Bringing the sculptures to the stage, Linyekula summons, converses and dances with their spirits.

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My body, my archive

Choreography and dance
Faustin Linyekula
In dialogue with Eric Vautrin
Dramaturgy assistant
Dorcas Mulamba
Heru Shabaka-Ra
Sound design and video
Franck Moka
Costume design
Aldina Jesus
Lighting design
In collaboration with Christophe Glanzmann
Additional music
Jamos, Passero and Mobeti (percussion)
Nierica by Joachim Montessuis

Produced by Studios Kabako / Isaac Yenga
Co-produced by Chaillot – Théâtre national de la Danse, Théâtre Vidy-Lausanne
With support from Arts and Humanities Division, New York University Abu Dhabi
Special thanks to Catherine Wood and Tate Modern, London

The Performance is made possible with the generous support of the Bank of Sharjah and the Sharjah Government Media Bureau. Bank of Sharjah's sponsorship of the Sharjah Biennial aligns with its focus on social responsibility and fostering cooperation among communities and connecting them through arts.

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Faustin Linyekula: My body, my archive

Linyekula, Faustin

Faustin Linyekula’s work as a choreographer, dancer and founder of Studios Kabako in Kisangani is intimately tied to the artist’s engagement with his home country.