the european biennial of contemporary art
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Manifesta 1, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 1996.
Manifesta 1 was developed by Hedwig Fijen and Jolie van Leeuwen as the first edition of the Manifesta Biennal. Curated by Katalyn Neray, Rosa Martinez, Viktor Misiano and Hans Ulrich Obrist, it was held in 16 different museums and 36 public spaces in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. All the works displayed at Manifesta 1 were specially made for this event and many of the participating artists where exhibiting outside their own countries for the first time in their career. Many of these artists went on to exhibit extensively in public and commercial galleries in Europe and the US, and to take part in major international events, such as the Venice Biennial. A novel aspect of this exhibition – taken on by subsequent editions of Manifesta – was the emphasis given to collaborative work between artists, curators, representatives of different disciplines and the general public. In the months prior to the opening, the curatorial team responsible for realizing the exhibition held a series of so called ‘open’ and ‘closed house’ meetings in a dozen different cities all over Europe, in which professionals and members of the general public were invited to participate. From the very outset, the initiators of Manifesta mounted a successful cooperation between several national arts organisations in the Netherlands and more than 26 European countries, their Ministries of Culture and national arts organisations. Manifesta also received the patronage of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The 72 European artists were all supported by their national governments or by local commercial or public galleries. The firm Philip Morris INC Benelux was the principal sponsor and all the members of the then active network of Soros Centres for Contemporary Art also supported the Biennial.
h3. Manifesta 2, Luxembourg, 1998
Manifesta 2 was held under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture of Luxembourg, curated by Robert Fleck, Maria Lind and Barbara Vanderlinden, and included mostly site-specific work. For the first time, Manifesta included a series of international discussions and debates and launched a cumulative ‘Info lab’ (the basis of Manifesta’s present growing archive), with up-to-date printed and audiovisual material about current artistic tendencies in 30 different European countries. Another innovative feature of Manifesta 2, which has been further developed for Manifesta 3 and 4, was the involvement of 30 young people from all over Europe in a training programme specially devised for Manifesta 2 with organisational and educational purposes. Manifesta 2 was co-developed under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture of Luxembourg and the City of Luxembourg, two major international sponsors and more than 100 local sponsors. More than 200 individuals, galleries and museums in Europe gave organisational or financial support to the 47 artists taking part in Manifesta 2. The Biennial also received grants from the DGX Kaleidoscope/ Culture 2000 programme of the European Commission and the European Cultural Foundation. All the members of the then active network of Soros Centres for Contemporary Art supported Manifesta 2 as well.
h3. Manifesta 3, Ljubljana, Slovenia, 2000
For Manifesta 3 the work by artists, artists’ collectives, urban planners and architects was spread over three main venues. For the first time, Manifesta received press coverage in the United States of America, but no less important was the high proportion of visitors from neighbouring countries in East and South-East Europe. Another new initiative was to give the exhibition a theme, which the curatorial team (Francesco Bonami, Ole Bouman, Maria Hlavajova and Kathrin Rhomberg) named Borderline Syndrome, Energies of Defence. In order to support the subject they were exploring the curatos also solicited catalogue contributions not only from a wide range of Slovenian and foreign intellectuals (philosophers, historians and sociologists among others), but also from the general public. This catalogue has turned today into a collector’s item. The nature of the events in Ljubljana reflected the thriving intellectual life of the city and the relevance of interdisciplinary practice in the arts – particularly, the crossover between visual art, cinema and performance, and interaction with new media. Manifesta 3 was organised under the protection of the Ministry of Culture of Slovenia and the City of Ljubljana, by Igor Zabel on behalf of the Cankarjev Dom the Cultural Center and Congress Hall. It gained support from international organisations and private companies such as: Mobitel, Metropolis Media, Adria Airways, Kompas, Mondriaan Foundation, Helvetia Arts Council of Switzerland, FRAME, Finnish Fund for Exchange, Cultural Link, International Contemporary Art Network (ICAN) and amongst others the British Council. It also received grants from the DGX Kaleidoscope/Culture 2000 programme of the European Commission.
h3. Manifesta 4, Frankfurt/Main, Germany, 2002
Manifesta 4 took place in more than 15 venues and urban sites in the city of Frankfurt/Main and more than a dozen theoreticians played a major role in site-related workshops, discussions and programmes. The three female curators Iara Boubnova, Nuria Enguita Mayo and Stephanie Moisdon Trembley created an extensive digital and physical Manifesta archive that resulted from their extensive travel, a library called ‘Trespassing Space’ and a Manifesta online project called On this occasion, Manifesta 4 incorporated the support of more than 16 sponsors and non-profit organisations, as well as the direct support through artist’s projects by more than 40 national arts organisations. Manifesta 4’s production process was in the hands of Künstlerhaus Mousonturm, the biennial’s organising party, and independent producer Martin Fritz. This edition counted with support from private sponsors and profit organisations such as Europäische Zentralbank, Hessische Landeszentralbank, Fraport AG, Deutsche Städte Medien GmbH, Union Investment Stiftung, a.o. Manifesta 4 had a high amount of non-profit fund acquisitions coming from AFAA, DAP, Pro Helvetia, the British Council, Danish Contemporary Art Foundation, Frame, Irish Arts Council, IASPIS, GAI, Mondriaan Foundation, and many Ministries of Culture of for example Czech Republic, Portugal, Hungary, Poland, Croatia and Iceland. The two main supporters Messe Frankfurt GmbH and Allianz Kulturstiftung contributed generously.
h3. Manifesta 5, Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain, 2004
The Basque region – one of a specific dynamic historical and socio-political background – has a strong sense of cultural and political identity and a determination to develop coherent cultural policies. This attitude together with its geographical position in Southern Europe made Donostia-San Sebastian a perfect location for the 5th edition of Manifesta, curated by Massimiliano Gioni and Marta Kuzma. At the time of Manifesta 5, one of Manifesta’s long-term strategic aims was to achieve a stronger North-South balance, in addition to the already existing East-West balance in all aspects of its activities, including location, board members, curatorial teams and artistic representation. One particularly innovative program within the Biennale was Manifesta 5’s partnership with the post-graduate Berlage Institute Rotterdam in the Netherlands, functioning as a urban mediator at the biennial and as a collaboration between architects and artists, exploring how contemporary art practices is extending in the reality of architecture and urban planning. Manifesta 5 was hosted by the Basque Government, the Territorial Council of Gipuzkoa and the Donostia-San Sebastian City Council and organised by Lourdes Fernandez. Collaborating parties were the Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte of Spain. Other sponsors and partners were Association Francaise d’Action Artistique (France), Association Tranzit (Czech Republic), British Council (United Kingdom), Center for Contemporary Art (Estonia), Critical Voices (Ireland), Department for Land Development and Promotion of the Territorial Council of Gipuzkoa (Spain), European Cultural Foundation (Netherlands), Federal Office of Culture (Switzerland), Fundacao Caloustre Gulbenkian Servigio de Belas-Artes (Portugal), FRAME Finnish Fund for Art Exchange (Finland), International Renaissance Foundation (Ukraine), Ministry of Culture and Tourism (Turkey), Ministerie van de Vlaamse Gemeenschap (Belgium), Office for Contemporary Art (Norway), Port of Pasajes, Port Authority of Pasajes, (Spain), Scottish Arts Council (Union Kingdom), The Mondriaan Foundation (The Netherlands), Untitled Art Consulting (Spain). Apart from the Allianz Kulturstiftung, the main private sponsors of Manifesta 5 were the Kutxa Obra Social, media partner El Diario Vasco, Vidi Square, TeleDonosti, Azkar, Astigarraga Auto and Erictel.
h3. Manifesta 6, Nicosia, Cyprus, 2006
The complexity of Cyprus and Nicosia – a culturally and politically divided site, geographically isolated and located closer to the Middle East than to Europe – created a opportunity to revisit the original mandate of Manifesta and to re-think its form and functions. In so doing, activating Manifesta’s capacity to be a catalyst for energizing cultural production, institutions and discourse in the region. As their project for Manifesta 6, the curatorial team of Mai Abu ElDahab, Anton Vidokle and Florian Waldvogel intended to use the capital, network and infrastructure of Manifesta along with the local resources to start an experimental art school. The school, bi-communal and international in composition, was to be formed around a site-specific exhibition materialized through short and long-term residency programs resulting in a production of a number of new works and events in Nicosia, and might have gone on to become a permanent institution. Manifesta 6 was cancelled by the authorities on Cyprus three months before its opening.