Manifesta, the roving European Biennial of Contemporary art, changes it location every two years – Rotterdam (1996), Luxembourg (1998), Ljubljana(2000), Frankfurt (2002), San Sebastian (2004), Nicosia (2006 – cancelled), Trentino-South Tyrol (2008), Murcia in dialogue with northern Africa (2010) and Limburg (2012). Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography. This includes innovations in curatorial practices, exhibition models and education. Each Manifesta biennial aims to investigate and reflect on emerging developments in contemporary art, set within a European context. In doing so, we present local, national and international audiences with new aspects and forms of artistic expression.
Each Manifesta comprises a range of activities extending over a period of two or more years. This incorporates publications, meetings, discussions and seminars (the so-called ‘Coffee Breaks’), staged in diverse locations throughout Europe and in the neighbouring regions, culminating in the final three-month long exhibition (or in 2006, an ‘art school’) in the host city or region. In this way, Manifesta aims to create a keen and workable interface between prevailing international artistic and intellectual debates, paying attention to the specific qualities and idiosyncrasies of a given location.
Inherent to Manifesta’s nomadic character is the desire to explore the psychological and geographical territory of Europe, referring both to border-lines and concepts. This process aims to establish closer dialogue between particular cultural and artistic situations and the broader, international fields of contemporary art, theory and politics in a changing society. Manifesta has a pan-European vocation and at each edition, it has successfully presented artists, curators, young professionals and trainees from as many as 40 different countries. With the expansion of the European community from 12 to 28 countries, and with the possible target of around 30 nations in the foreseeable future, Manifesta also realizes the importance of creating links with Europe’s neighbours in Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and northern Africa. At the same time, it continues to focus on minority groups and cultures within Europe itself. Therefore Manifesta looks forward to expanding its network and building creative partnerships with organizations, curators, art professionals and independent figureheads in Europe and beyond, drafting an interlocking map of contemporary art.