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Le Miroir Vivant: Neo Muyanga

From the beginning of April, the fourth floor will be transformed into the dynamic workshop of the South African composer and artist Neo Muyanga. Join him in his voyage of discovery through the depot and witness the formation of his brand-new site-specific performance. The final presentation took place on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 June 2023. Until 19 June, the gallery space can be visited with collection pieces and video archive collected over the past months.

Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen

Closing performance on June 3 & 4

After months of exploring, rehearsing and researching, Muyanga's residency will conclude with a final event in the form of a musical, site-specific live installation. Performance Do they work? Spells against othering is with his Rotterdam choir, a solo performance by opera singer Nienke Nasserian, spoken word artist Moze Nael, breakdancer Menno van Gorp and a talk with artist Alicia Framis.

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Closing performance on June 3 & 4
Meet Neo Muyanga. Video: Loes Korten

About Le Miroir Vivant

Le Miroir Vivant, after René Magritte's painting of the same name 'The Living Mirror' (1929), is a new multi-year program at Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen. Until 2025, various international artists will be invited to give a completely personal interpretation of one of the gallery spaces. Le Miroir Vivant is made possible by Stichting Ammodo.

While in residence, each artist is challenged to blend different disciplines, genres and periods with their own domain into a new work that provides food for thought. Le Miroir Vivant offers interdisciplinary makers the opportunity to create a work that falls outside art-historical museum spheres as the works could be, for example, a live installation, an interactive performance, a sonic experience or a social sculpture.

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About Le Miroir Vivant
Le miroir vivant, René Magritte, 1929

Music at the depot

Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen is the ideal place in which to follow a journey of development. The building symbolizes the layered work behind the scenes of an art museum. Muyanga’s piece of music develops a little further every week, and what you find always comes as a surprise.

On Saturdays between 14:00hr and 17:00hr you will be eyewitnesses to the animated rehearsals in which the Rotterdam choir will be practising under the direction of the conductor Amare Bilate. During the rest of the week you can explore the musical workstation where the sounds of the weekend will still resonate.

Music at the depot
Amare Bilate & Neo Muyanga by Aad Hoogendoorn

Connection: Neo Muyanga & Alicia Framis

During one of his explorations through Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen's collection, Muyanga came across the art series anti_dog (2002) by Spanish artist Alicia Framis. This 'fashion line' consists of nine golden dresses based on designs by major fashion houses, such as Chanel, Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier. The dresses are made of twaron, a fabric that is dog-, bullet-, cut- and fire-resistant. The idea for anti_dog came about when Framis heard of dogs attacking women of colour in Berlin. Racist motives were behind it. Besides a fashion show at Palais de Tokyo (Paris), the collection was shown through manifestations in public spaces, such as at the Amsterdam ArenA in 2002.  

Muyanga was immediately attracted to Framis' work. He recognised her stories from his native country, where aggressive dogs also attacked people of colour. The animals were trained by the police. On both Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 June, a conversation between Muyanga and Framis will take place at 1:30pm, as part of the conclusion of the first edition of Le Miroir Vivant. In addition, the anti_dog dresses will be shown and worn once during the closing weekend of Neo Muyanga's stay at Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen.

Connection: Neo Muyanga & Alicia Framis
Anti_Dog Courrèges (2002), Alicia Framis

About Neo Muyanga

Neo Muyanga grew up in Soweto, in the southwest of Johannesburg. In the nineteen-seventies the township was the backdrop to violent student demonstrations and as a result became the cradle of South-African songs of protest. This is why his current research often focuses on protest songs and the history of musical storytelling in the South. Muyanga had already been exposed to music as a child, but it was only when he went to Trieste in Italy to study physics and philosophy that he discovered the madrigal. The centuries-old Italian form of music, with the transfer of a story with harmonized vocals at its heart, fascinated him and under the watchful eye of the renowned choral maestro Piero Poclen he learned the intricacies of the tradition. 

In the mid-90s Muyanga returned to South Africa, where his multifaceted career in the performance arts got off to a flying start. In 1996 he co-founded the acoustic soul duo Blk Sonshine with Masauko Chipembere, which enjoyed wide acclaim after hits such as ‘Born In A Taxi’ and ‘Building’. Muyanga has collaborated with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Handspring Puppet Company and has composed high-profile productions including the opera Heart of Redness (South Africa, 2015), the interactive installation A Maze in Grace (São Paulo, 2020-21) and the opera How Anansi Freed the Stories of the World (Amsterdam, 2021). Muyanga is also the joint founder and co-curator of the Pan African Space Station (2008), an online platform for experimental African music.

Recent work: 

  • How Anansi Freed the Stories of the World (2021), opera, i.o.v. Nationale Opera & Ballet | Watch here
  • A Maze in Grace (2020-2021), installatie, i.o.v. de 34e Bienal de São Paolo en Liverpool Biennial | Watch here

This project is made possible by: