Contemporary art biennial Manifesta will take place at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg on the occasion of its tenth edition, in 2014.
The event was established after the collapse of the Iron Curtain that had split Europe into two parts, in order to promote dialogue between artists from the East and from the West. The founder of Manifesta, Hedwig Fijen, explains this choice by a rediscovery of their original aims, for the 20th jubilee event. This tenth edition is indeed the first, since the inception, to take place in a former Soviet institution.
In a touchy context, since the museum, headed by Mikhail Piotrovsky, was recently a victim of severe criticism from Russian curators, who strongly disapproved of the intervention of British curators Jake and Dinos Chapman for the inauguration of the new spaces of the museum, devoted to contemporary art. Hedwig Fijen supports Manifesta’s being held at the Hermitage Museum in spite of controversy: “Of course, we are concerned about the current conservative climate. But should we isolate all the countries that are not up to the full standard of human rights? Or should we try to build bridges and create a cultural dialogue?”
The last edition took place in Limburg, Netherlands, in 2012, under the curatorship of Cuauhtémoc Medina. This European contemporary art biennial escapes traditional schemes of exhibition, by taking over unusual spaces and offering alternative paths.