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.
Le Grand Puzzle, a comprehensive urban study, was undertaken by the Rotterdam-based architectural studio MVRDV and The Why Factory under the leadership of Winy Maas and was commissioned by Manifesta 13 Marseille. Over the course of two years, from 2018 to the beginning of 2020, an international team of architects and urbanists collaborated with Manifesta 13, Marseille and universities to conduct extensive research. The outcome of this endeavour was a book that served as a manifesto for the city, offering a methodology, agenda and analysis that portrayed Marseille in the present day.
Commissioned as an integral part of Manifesta 13 Marseille, Le Grand Puzzle represented a novel approach to creative mediation. It not only provided a blueprint for Marseille to shape its future but also established a research framework to ensure that Manifesta 13 had a lasting impact on the city and its residents. Through the research, Marseille's unique characteristics, possibilities, aspirations, needs, and complexities were unveiled, presenting a grand puzzle composed of multiple narratives and mosaic-like fragments.
Le Grand Puzzle acted as a powerful tool for citizens to reexamine the potential of their city. It showcased diverse possibilities for creating new and more inclusive urban landscapes, encouraging a collective reimagining of Marseille's future.