Manifesta was conceived in the early 1990s as a nomadic, European biennial of contemporary art, responding to the new social, cultural and political reality that emerged in the aftermath of the Cold War. Following a desire to explore the psychological and geographical territory of Europe and to provide a dynamic platform for cultural exchange throughout the region, it takes place every two years in a different European city. Along with the Venice Biennale and documenta in Kassel, Manifesta is one of the foremost art events in Europe.
Since 1996, Manifesta has taken place in Rotterdam, Luxembourg, Ljubljana, Frankfurt, Donostia/San Sebastián, Trentino–South Tyrol, Murcia, Genk and most recently St. Petersburg. Over the course of ten biennials and twenty years, more than 2.5 millions people have visited Manifesta’s events and participated in its programs. It has successfully presented artists, curators and young professionals from as many as forty different countries, and in each edition continues to innovate and reimagine contemporary art practices. The eleventh edition will be hosted by the city of Zurich and will run from 11 June until 18 September 2016.
New Productions: Artists and their Hosts
For “What People Do for Money” 30 international artists are developing projects with “hosts” of their choice, representatives of different occupations. The results of these encounters will be exhibited at the hosts’ respective workplaces (the so-called satellite venues) as well as at the main Manifesta venues – in the well-known Zurich art institutions Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, LUMA Westbau / POOL, Kunsthalle Zürich and Helmhaus. Starting with the first one this past month, the new Manifesta projects are being inaugurated one by one at the satellite venues by the hosts and their friends.
The Historical Exhibitions: Sites Under Construction
The artistic projects are flanked by a reflective selection of artworks under the title The Historical Exhibitions: Sites Under Construction with over a hundred positions. Developed by Manifesta curator Christian Jankowski along with Francesca Gavin, it examines and explores the various modes of artistic portrayal of current and historic working worlds.
Pavillon of Reflections
Centerpiece of Manifesta 11 will be the Pavillon of Reflections, a floating platform erected on Lake Zurich. Here, visitors will be able to witness crucial moments in the creation of the artworks as captured in a series of movie productions. Curator Christian Jankowski about the project: “In the daytime, the Pavillon of Reflections will function as an urban island, a meeting place and open-air swimming area, while at night it will turn into an open-air cinema.”
Cabaret der Künstler – Zunfthaus Voltaire
The traditional guilds of Zurich inspired Christian Jankowski for the concept of Manifesta 11. In conjunction with Manifesta 11, Zurich’s 27th trade, the guild of artists, was founded in March 2016. For this purpose, the entire historical building at Spiegelgasse 1 will be converted into a guild house from June 2016. Admission to the Cabaret der Künstler – Zunfthaus Voltaire is reserved for guild members only. Artists are called on to hand in proposals for guild membership with performances realized in conjunction with non-artists.
Manifesta aims to better understand contemporary art and the role it can play in society. With every edition of Manifesta, the education department has played a central role in the conception of the biennial. This Manifesta will be no exception: the mediation team has developed an education programme which focuses on the question of how participation can contribute to generating a heterogeneous art audience.
Each edition of Manifesta is accompanied by Parallel Events. Their aim is to highlight various aspects of the local and regional art scenes and to create a dialogue between them and the main exhibition.