15 maart 2013
Je vraagt je werkelijk af of de Manifesta niet geboycot moet worden na dit soort wereldveemde verklaringen in het licht van wat in Rusland aan de hand is:
The Foundation Manifesta 10,
St. Petersburg, in response to the most recent calls for a boycott, states
that as of today (11 March) Manifesta 10 remains committed to continuing with
the Biennial in St. Petersburg. We were invited by the State Hermitage
Museum to investigate the notion of contemporary art and culture in a contested
society, and we think it is necessary to continue to do so under the current
We are committed because we believe the Biennial acts as a catalyst for local
and international artistic life, and activates those circles whose desire is to
participate in an ongoing discursive platform for international cultural
exchange. We believe cancelling the project plays directly into the current
escalation of the ‘cold war’ rhetoric and fails to acknowledge the complexity of
Manifesta 10 is part of a larger process involving art, public discussion,
education and public programs and operates as a platform for critical
engagement where complexities and contradictions are allowed and explored. We
have forged productive partnerships with many of the different local and
international communities of St. Petersburg and do not now intend to abandon
Manifesta 10 will continue monitoring the situation in Ukraine and we are
hopeful for a successful diplomatic solution—one that mediates this volatile
situation with enormous care and strives for a peaceful outcome.
A statement by Kasper König, Curator of Manifesta 10.
When I was approached to make a curatorial proposal for Manifesta 10 in St.
Petersburg in honor of the Hermitage’s 250th anniversary and
Manifesta’s 20th birthday, I immediately accepted the challenge for
the aura of the Hermitage, because of its long and complex history, and because
of the historical implications of holding a Manifesta biennial first time in a
former Warsaw Pact city (and only for the second time in the former East of
Since then, more than 43 artists (my original, intuitive limit to the number of
participants) have accepted my invitation and have visited and developed their
work in St. Petersburg with great seriousness and focus. The exhibition is now
rapidly approaching. It will be in the historical spaces of the Winter Palace,
the newly renovated General Staff Building, and will be accompanied by a public
program curated by Polish curator Joanna Warsza that extends into the city and
a film program curated by Rainald Schumacher and Nathalie Hoyos of Office for
Art. At the same time an extensive Education program is being developed by
British curator Sepake Angiama who works for the Manifesta 10 team in St.
We will present the complex spectrum of the contributions in more detail at the
press conference on March 25th.
In the meantime Manifesta is working with a local and international team on the
spot, and here I think in particular of our Russian colleagues, who have all
proven their dedication to this project. And so I feel very strongly about the
necessity of the biennial – for St. Petersburg and for the public. The
exhibition is part of a larger process involving art, education, public
discussions, civil developments, and more. The situation has escalated since
our work began but I do not think that this implies support (by the State
Hermitage Museum and its Director Dr. Piotrovsky, by the Manifesta Foundation
and its Director Hedwig Fijen, or by me) for Russia’s present political and
military actions. To stop our work for any reason other than its literal and
practical impossibility is not an answer to the current situation.
My objective is to make a complex biennial exhibition where the presentation of
highly varied and particular artistic approaches, underwritten by all the
participating artists, is the central challenge. The main concern here is to
grapple with all the possibilities that the art offers and understand the
breadth of perspectives that it presents and opens up. I do not aspire to
simply present commentary and, more importantly, I hope to present far more than just
commentary on the present political circumstances.
All artists were invited to participate with the following statement: “Of
course the political circumstances are currently delicate and unpleasant, and
we have to make sure not to censor ourselves. It is important to me that my
contract guarantees artistic freedom, however within Russian law. Still, we
hope to exhibit substantial artworks that do not resort to cheap provocations.
The environment and the possibilities for this exhibition are very rich and it
would be a mistake to reduce our possibilities down to the level of just making
a particular political statement.”
Of course we are all aware that this 10th edition of Manifesta could
be misused by political actors as a platform for their own self-righteous
representation. However, it is and should be our goal to make an exhibition
that uses the limited means of art to inspire discussion, that questions, and
that wants to have an impact even after its closure in the autumn of 2014.