Longitudes

Manifesta 9, "The Deep of the Modern", Genk, Belgium, 2 June – 30 September 2012 in pictures and seen by the critics

 Façade of the Waterschei industrial complex of the former coal mine in Genk where Manifesta 9 takes place.

Extra materials:  
40-page 'Shortguide' newspaper as a PDF   
Digital catalogue

In her prologue Manifesta founding director Hedwig Fijen, defines the difference and the strength of the current incarnation of the European biennial: "'The Deep of the Modern'" is the first Manifesta biennial to intentionally leave behind its strictly contemporary origins as the basis of its exhibition model. As an uncompromising European contemporary art event, Manifesta 9 distances itself from the much-hyped model of showcasing only the latest artistic production by emerging talent, typical of these mega-shows. Instead it embarks on a critical attemps to foster interdisciplinary and intergenerational dialogue between the history of the site and the sometimes overlooked memories of the mining communities."

The introduction of an art historical perspective into the project has been a way to appeal to a more diverse audience, as Cuauhtémoc Medina, Chief Curator of Manifesta 9, has noted in his introductory essay: "our hope is that the long historical perspective will attact a local audience in a region that has not customarily been a consumer of contemporary art, along with a number of scholars and the descendants of the miners that built the region."



Art Agenda's review by writer and Co-Director of Tulips & Roses gallery in Brussels, Jonas Žakaitis provides the backstory:

"Genk is a town built for the sole purpose of getting the black stuff out of the ground. Early in the last century, after geologist André Dumont discovered significant amounts of coal lurking in the area, something like 60,000 people moved in from various parts of the world to work in and around the pits, building several large-scale mining complexes with the town's modest amenities sprinkled around them. When heavy industry glaciers started moving out of Western Europe in the 1980s, Genk was left with a large useless hole right in the gut. The remaining fraction of the Waterschei mine (23,000 sq. m of it) is an involuntary witness to this process of de-industrialization, a derelict but beautiful and proud building. After Manifesta 9, or so it tells me in the press pack, it "will be redeveloped as part of a master plan to create Thor park (is this name a jolly wink to the Germanic god of thunder, I wonder), a business and science complex focusing on innovation and knowledge."

 Stairs connecting the first and second floor of the Waterschei.

Kate Sutton's Artforum.com review also framed the loaded context: "Chief curator Cuauhtémoc Medina, together with co-curators Katerina Gregos and Dawn Ades, selected the Belgian province of Limburg, “a mini European Union” also known as “Euregio-Meuse-Rhine.” The region has spent much of this century heavily dependent on coal production, but, with the last mine closing in 1992, Limburg is now eager to transition to new technology. Once a kind of Emerald City for coal miners, the garden city of Genk provides the ideal venue with its massive, Art Deco–style André Dumont mine."

Top floor of the Waterschei building.

As Javier Hontoria noted in his El Cultural review, Medina wanted to concentrate everything in the Waterschei, "favoring the concept of "exhibition" versus the "festival", and consequently emphasizing the metaphor of the vertical versus the horizontal to the light of new economic systems." (...) "The idea of ​​strata" – he continues –  "so tied to the world of mining, backbones the sense of the exhibition, which, under the title "The Deep of the Modern", unfolds in a concise and accurate way throughout the three levels of the building."

As explained in the press kit, 'The Deep of the Modern' begins with '17 Tons' "an exploration of the cultural production that has been powered by the energy of memory that courses through the diverse heirs of coal mining in the Campine region of Limburg, as well as several other regions in Europe".
  
Models of the Underground from the 1950s, 3D representations used to teach 14–17 year old boys mining techniques and location of the coal layers.
Works by Manuel Durán (an 82 yeard old self-taught artist and former miner for 19 years) who has been making "Miners' heads" sculptures since the 1950s out of potato pulp, coal, salt and paint.

 Lara Almarcegui, "Wasteland (Genk), 2004–16. More than 1 hectare of wasteland in public space." For the project, Almarcegui identified a neglected plot of land and scouted, surveyed and described the land. "Through negotiations iwth the City of Genk, Almarcegui arranged to protect the terrain from development for ten years (...). For Manifesta 9, the City of Genk agreed to extend the work for an additional two years and is currently in the planning stages of protecting it in perpetuity." (text by Steven Op de Beeck included in Manifesta 9 manual "The Deep of the Modern – A subcyclopaedia", Silvana Editoriale). Latitudes' visited the site back in 2007 (see blog here).

Continuing on the second floor we encounter 'The Age of Coal': "An art historical exhibition comprising artworks from 1800 to the early 21st century about the history of art production aesthetically related to the industrial era" (...) "organized into several thematic sections with artworks in which coal played an important role. Coal as the main fuel of industry, as a major factor of environmental change, as a fossil with significant consequences in the field of natural science, as the main referent of certain forms of working class culture and as a material symbolic of the experience of modern life". 

One of the three works by Marcel Broodthaers, "Trois tas de charbon", 1966-67.

David Hammons, "Chasing the Blue Train" (1989) "focuses on the powerpul metaphor of the railroads that have tgransformed the landscape and socity of the US since the 19th Century." (text by Mieke Mels in Manifesta's "The Deep of the Modern – A subcyclopaedia", Silvana Editoriale).

 Richard Long's 26 meter long black "Bolivian Coal Line" carpet from 1992.
 
 Rossella Biscotti, "Title One: The Taks of the Community", 2012. Biscotti also contributed with "A Conductor", 2012: On December 2009, the Unit 2 of the Ignalina Nuclear Poer Plant in Lithuania closed, consequently materials from the site were put up for auction. Biscotti acquired lead which have now been reused in Belgium into the new electrical wires to supply electricity for the show. She also acquired lead, which is the basis for her floor sculptures in the spectacular Sint-Barbara's hall.
Antonio Vega Macotela (below) Study of Exhaustion — The Equivalent of Silver (2011), "a (failed) venture to export a “boleo” of coca leaves from Bolivian silver mines represented by a boleo-shaped piece of silver, roughly the amount of silver one miner gets out in a day" (Jonas Žakaitis in Art Agenda); and Rossella Biscotti (above).

Finally on the top floor, we find the section 'Poetics of Restructuring', with "contributions from 39 contemporary artists, focusing on aesthetic responses to the worldwide “economic restructuring” of the productive system in the early 21st century". 

"This archetypal kind of socio-econo-political development from industrialization to de-industrialization to post-industrial capitalism—and the corresponding forms of production, geographies, and distributions of resources—is what Manifesta's contemporary art section, mostly on the third floor of the building, is about." (Jonas Žakaitis in Art Agenda)

Manifesta educational materials and leaflets: "developed by the Manifesta 9 Education & Mediation department. There are 3 different 3x3 Newspapers for 3 age groups (12-, 12+ and 18+), so make sure you have the right one for you."

Ni Haifeng's "Para-Production", 2008-12 (ground floor) several tons of discarted fabric from trimmings originated in Chinese factories are re-sawn into a massive tapestry; and Bea Schilgelhoff's silk-screens "I'm too Christian for art" (2012) (top floor).

 Ante Timmermans' "Make a Molehill out of a Mountain (of Work)" (2012), shelves full of packed A4′s to be manually perforated in his office space during the opening days to make a heap of confetti with the resulting paper, placed on a table at the opposite side of the room and overlooking the window that frames the also "perforated" mining mountain. This tiresome and repetitive administrative task concludes with stamping each of the perforated papers (with stamps designed by the artists) and filing them in binders placed in shelves.

 Ante Timmermans' "Make a Molehill out of a Mountain (of Work)" (2012).

 View of the landscape from Ante Timmermans' space and the remaining Waterschei building (not in use).

Goldin + Senneby's "The decapitation of Money", 2010. From the exhibition newspaper: "Goldin + Senneby and team test the hypothesis that Headless Ltd. (a mysterious offshore company registrered in the Bahamas) is a reincarnation of the secret society "Acéphale", founded by Georges Bataille and friends in 1936."

Emre Hüner, "A little Larger Than the Entire Universe", 2012.

Duncan Campbell's "Make It New John", 2009, 50' video. Depicting the "history of the DMC-12, the extravagant, futuristic automobile created by American engineer and entrepeneur John Delorean (1925-2005). Campbell documents the strange attempt to use its production as a tool of social engineering. Relying heavily on archival footage, and incoporating a few staged scenes that introduce a political and biographical allegory, Campbell attempts to construct a panoramic view of the polar extremes that have characterized the social life of this icon of consumerism." (text by Cuauhtémoc Medina in in Manifesta's "The Deep of the Modern – A subcyclopaedia", Silvana Editoriale)

Back to Žakaitis analysis: (...) The weird part though is that all of these things, displayed in a generic and anemic way, are fenced from Mijndepot Waterschei, a full-blown and fully functioning museum assembled by former miners themselves back in 2004. Be sure to go there if you visit this Manifesta, and check out hundreds of mining tools, helmets, saint statues, a small train, and a 1:1 scale model of a coal shaft: great stuff that can get you really sooty.  

Miners museum in the Waterschei's first floor.

Nicoline van Harskamp, "Yours in Solidarity", 2009–12. Video, audio and archive material.

Praneet Soi's slideshow "Kumartuli Printer, Notes on Labor Part 1", 2010, which "parsed out the gestures of a printer's hands as he interacts with an ancient pedal-operated press in Calcutta. As the operator feeds paper into his anachronistic machine, it spits out grainy, high contrast images of his own hands, immersed in labor" (text by Cuauhtémoc Medina in in Manifesta's "The Deep of the Modern – A subcyclopaedia", Silvana Editoriale).

 Maarten Vanden Eynde, "Plastic Reef", 2008–12: a collection of melted down plastic trash collected while swirling in the Pacific Ocean. For more info see his comprehensive website.

As for the publication "The Deep of the Modern – A subcyclopaedia" (Edited by Silvana Editoriale), the curator writes that it has been "designed to suggest the complexity of meaning involved in the whole project as well as the richness of the individual elements themselves. (...) We have chosen to publish a book that breaks from the mould of conventional exhibition catalogues. We evoke the form of the encyclopaedia as a means of organising a whole made up of multiple unities (...). This Subcyclopaedia will thus serve as a record of the research process behind the biennial. (...) Our neologism is meant to suggest a comparison between the use of this reference book and the exhumation of modernity's underworld in the heritage, culture and history of coal mining.".  

 One of the pages of "The Deep of the Modern – A subcyclopaedia" (Edited by Silvana Editoriale).

Despite this intention of "breaking the mould", the 320-page book does include the traditional institutional forewords (to be precise, four) and an introductory curatorial essay by Medina. Many other texts are disseminated thoughout the publication, which is organised in alphabetical order A to Z, mixing concepts (starting with "Accumulation", ending with "Underground as Hell"), with artist texts by a network of over 30 writers, and essays by Gregos ("Poetics of Restructuring: On the question of production in the contemporary section of Manifesta 9") and Ades ("The Age of Coal: An Underground History of the Modern"), amongst other long form texts (by Medina himself, Svetlana Boym, as well as misfit entries such as "The Legacy of Manifesta" by Hedwig Fijen). 

Manifesta 9 curator Cuauhtémoc Medina (purple shirt) giving a tour during the opening weekend.

These and more photos (93 total) on Latitudes' flickr:




Presentation of the venues for Manifesta 8 (2010) in Murcia and Cartagena and announcement of Manifesta 9 (2012)



Presentation during ARCO by Pedro Alberto Cruz, Regional Minister of Culture and Tourism of the Autonomous Community of the Region of Murcia, HEDWIG FIJEN, Director, INTERNATIONAL FOUNDATION MANIFESTA and representatives of the CURATORIAL TEAM of Manifesta 8: BASSAM EL BARONI- ALEXANDRIA CONTEMPORARY ARTS FORUM (Egypt), KHALED RAMADAN - CHAMBER OF PUBLIC SECRETS (Denmark, UK, Lebanon) and VIT HAVRANEK- TRANZIT.ORG (Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia). Photo: Latitudes


Following on the announcement of Murcia as the host city for Manifesta 8 (see here) and the curatorial appointments announcement (see here), Manifesta Foundation presented during ARCO the venues for the European biennial, which will include (selection of photographs below): Museo Hidráulico de los Molinos del Río Segura, the MUBAM (Museo de Bellas Artes, Murcia), the Espacio AV, the Centro Párraga, Murcia, and the MURAM (Museo Regional del Arte Moderno, Cartagena), the Parque Torres Auditorium (Cartagena), the ARQUA (Museo Nacional de Arqueología Subacuática, Cartagena), the Former Autopsies Pavilion (Cartagena) and the San Antón Prison (Cartagena).


Slideshow with map of the venues in Murcia and Cartagena. Photo: Latitudes

Espacio AV, Murcia. Photo: Thomas Engelbert

Museo Hidráulico de los Molinos del Río Segura, Murcia. Photo: Thomas Engelbert

MURAM (Museo Regional del Arte Moderno), Cartagena. Photo: Thomas Engelbert


Former Autopsies Pavilion (Cartagena). Photo: Thomas Engelbert

ARQUA (Museo Nacional de Arqueología Subacuática), Cartagena. Photo: Thomas Engelbert

In addition, emblematic spaces like the Pavilion 2 of the Artillery Barracks (Murcia), the Former Post and Telegraphs Office (Murcia) or the panoramic restaurant El Parque (Cartagena) are being recovered for the public and re-opened after years in disuse.

Former Post and Telegraphs Office (Murcia). Photo: Thomas Engelbert

Manifesta 8 will take place from October 2, 2010 through January 9, 2011.

The hosting city/region for Manifesta 9 (2012) has recently been announced: Limburg, the eastern most province of Flanders, Belgium. The organising venue is the art center Z33 directed by Jan Boelen. In words of the commissioner 'repositioning oneself in a post-industrial society and the pursuit of attaching new meaning to our industrial heritage are issues which are present all over Europe and hold the interest of the Manifesta. With its impressive buildings on the mine sites at Waterschei and Beringen, and the production halls of the former Philips factory in Hasselt Limburg has also favourable sites to house expositions.'


PAC Murcia 2010: 'Dominó Caníbal', a year-long 'cannibalistic' exhibition project

The year-long exhibition project DOMINÓ CANÍBAL will use a single venue, the 18th century convent church Sala Verónicas, over a period of twelve months. Starting with the sculptor, essayist and poet Jimmie Durham, each successive artist [Cristina Lucas (March 26th), The Bruce High Quality Foundation (May 21st – see images of their 'temporary office' for Latitudes' participation in 'No Soul for Sale'), Kendell Geers (July 9th), Tania Bruguera (September 24th), Rivane Neuenschwander (November 12th) and Francis Alÿs (December 17th)] will create his/her work based on what was created by the preceding artist, either destroying it, appropriating or reinterpreting it.

Jimmie Durham's exhibition will open on Monday 25th January, and will be preceded by a conversation between him and Cuauhtémoc Medina, curator of 'Dominó Caníbal', on Friday 22 January, 6pm at CENDEAC.
Below images of the artist during his recent site visits to Murcia and surroundings. 


 As PAC 2010 curator Cuauhtémoc Medina has stated “my starting point is the operation of the game of dominoes, which is a very widespread transcultural point of production. (...) From the ideological use of the so-called “domino effect” brings to mind the terrors of the Cold War and beyond”. Here "the creative process depends on observation and interaction with the previous moves, instead of viewing itself as the production of some unique and conclusive image." (1)


The ongoing creative process taking place in Sala Verónicas will be filmed in real time and on view at the PAC MURCIA website (www.pacmurcia.es).

As with the previous PAC in 2008 (see Latitudes' posts here and here) a series of activities are running parallel to PAC 2010: a seminar organised in collaboration with CENDEAC (Centro de Documentación y Estudios Avanzados de Arte Contemporáneo), a programme of exhibitions in art galleries in the region and series residences for artists from Murcia in Europe and America.

Coinciding with this edition of PAC, the
European Biennial for Contemporary Art Manifesta 8 will also take place in Murcia and open on October 1st . The event is curated by three collectives Alexandria Contemporary Art Forum (Egypt), Chamber of Public Secrets (Denmark, Italy, Lebanon) and Tranzit (Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia) (see Latitudes post here and here) with the "aim to engage with Europe’s present-day boundaries with Northern Africa and its interrelations with the Maghreb region." (2)

'Dominó Caníbal'
, January–December 2010, Sala Verónicas, Murcia
Artists: Jimmie Durham (January 22nd) Cristina Lucas (March 26th), Bruce High Quality

Foundation (May 21st), Kendell Geers (July 9th) Tania Bruguera (September 24th),
Rivane Neuenschwander (November 12th) and Francis Alÿs (December 17th).
Curator: Cuauhtémoc Medina
Project Management: Carlos Urroz
Production: PAC Murcia is an initiative of the Department of Education and Culture of the Región de Murcia through its Directorate General of Fine Art and Cultural Goods.
Organiser: Department of Culture & Tourism, Region of Murcia
Press & Communication: Urroz Proyectos, T + 34 915 648 856, [email protected], www.urrozproyectos.com
Project website: www.pacmurcia.es

UPDATE - images of Jimmie Durham's installation. Photos: La Lobera
(1) Curatorial text, available on http://www.pacmurcia.es
(2) Manifesta website
Images: Graphic identity of 'Dominó Caníbal', portraits of Jimmie Durham during his site visits to Murcia and surroundings and interior of Sala Verónicas (Photos: La Lobera). Courtesy PAC Murcia 2010.

Manifesta 8, 2010 - Curatorial Appointments

As announced during ARCO last February (see press release at the bottom of our 27 November 2008 post) "Manifesta 8 will explore the idea of Europe in the 21st century at the edges of the continent. More specifically, the aim of Manifesta 8 will be to engage with Europe’s present-day boundaries with Northern Africa and its interrelations with the Maghreb region."

Following Manifesta's invitation to "existing curatorial groups, artistic and interdisciplinary collectives and/or existing institutions to be part of the Curatorial Team of Manifesta 8" they have announced the appointment of the Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum, Chamber of Public Secrets and Tranzit.org as the curatorial collectives in charge of Manifesta 8, which will open 1 October 2010 during 100 days in Murcia and Cartagena, in the south-east of Spain.

Following are their CV's taken from e-flux, 4 September 2009. Hopefully this and further information will soon be uploaded on the (ancient) Manifesta website:

ALEXANDRIA CONTEMPORARY ARTS FORUM
Curator/Team Executive: Bassam El Baroni
Associate Curator: Jeremy Beaudry

Alexandria Contemporary Arts Forum (ACAF), founded in Alexandria (Egypt) in December 2005, focuses on contemporary art, new media and discursive practice, cultivating a deeper awareness of art in relation to all aspects of contemporary life and culture. Central to its mission is an ongoing engagement with projects that bring together established and emerging artists, university students, and diverse practitioners, in contexts that recognize the value of an informal, non-hierarchical, open-ended circulation of information and experience. The ACAF is in a constant state of flux and incorporates innovative activities, guided by its socio-cultural compass.

CHAMBER OF PUBLIC SECRETS
Curators/Team Executives: Khaled Ramadan / Alfredo Cramerotti

Chamber of Public Secrets (CPS), based in Copenhagen (Denmark) and the Middle East, works as a network of artists, curators and thinkers who have been collaborating since 2004 in the organization, production and circulation of film and video festivals, art exhibitions, TV and radio programs, political fictions and documentaries. CPS also develops forums for debate and publishes books and articles about socio-political and cultural issues such as migration, mobility, representation, colonialism, gender and difference. CPS wishes to stimulate the role of debate, while reconstructing the role of art, its responsibility and its relation to society.

TRANZIT.ORG
Team executive: Vít Havránek
Team assembly: Zbyněk Baladrán, Dóra Hegyi, Boris Ondreička, Georg Schöllhammer

tranzit.org is a network of autonomous art associations, existing since 2002 in Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, who cooperate working across borders - between nations, languages and histories. Each tranzit group operates independently from each other, using different formats and methods - such as discursive platforms, exhibitions, publications and research initiatives - but always aiming to generate a deep involvement in the local artistic and intellectual context. At the same time each tranzit group carries out a re-assessment of contemporary history, challenging the canons, geography and master-narratives of post-war European (art) histories. The aim of tranzit is to act trans-locally, in constant dialogue with cultural narratives on a local and global scale.

+ info:
http://www.manifesta.org

Manifesta 8, 2010, in Murcia?

 

Hot on the heels of Manifesta 7 which took place throughout the Trentino-South Tyrol region of northern Italy this summer and autumn, the applications for host city for the 8th edition of this European Biennial of Contemporary Art - Manifesta 8 would take place in 2010 - closed a little more than a month ago. According to the Polish newspaper Gazeta, the contenders in what increasingly feels like an Olympics-style bid, are ... Gdansk, Poland; Riga, Latvia and Murcia in Spain. The same paper reports that the Polish bid was someway short of the 3.3 million Euro price tag.

In contrast, the southern Spanish city of Murcia, doubtless keen to shake off its image of golf resorts and vegetable growing, is seemingly very flush with money for contemporary art. Rather improbably, the city already has something of a track record for bringing home major projects and attracting some big names. And as many in the arts seem to be cutting budgets in credit crunch times -- not least the State-funder SEACEX who recently announced a 22% cut in its provision for Spanish artists abroad -- Murcia seems to be spending and investing in contemporary art more than ever.

Earlier this year the city staged Estratos, (see posts from 03.02.08 and 28.05.08) a twenty-artist project curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, the first 'PAC' (Proyecto de Arte Contemporáneo) a biennial-like format alongside residencies and exchanges supported by the Region of Murcia. Anish Kapoor's 'Islamic Mirror' curated by Rosa Martinez, continues at the Santa Clara Convent until January 2009 (organised by Culture and Tourism Department of the Region), and in May the SOS 4.8 Festival, with curators including Rirkrit Tiravanija was also funded by the Region. With the debacle of Manifesta 6 and the dispersed and difficult to navigate recent edition, what is clearly going to be a well-financed bid from an ambitious Murcia (with the 2nd 'PAC' already in place for 2010, and doubtless supported again by the communications skills of Urroz Proyectos), will surely take a lot of beating. And rumours are already beginning to circulate that a decision has already been made. We'll find out shortly before Christmas.

––

UPDATE:

The Region of Murcia's selected "en diálogo con África del Norte" as the host of Manifesta 8. There will be a presentation on the 11 February, at 14h at their Stand de la Región de Murcia in ARCO, Madrid. See e-flux announcement (11/02/09)

[Image: http://flights.jet2.com/Murcia/weather.htm]

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