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.

Genc Kadriu, RKS/CK

Disaster narratives are one – rather common – way to address humanity’s fraught relationship with the environment. Yet Genc Kadriu, whose practice is poised between sound and sculpture, poetry and visual arts, wonders whether devotional genres might not be more conducive to planetary survival than dystopian ones.

Inspired by Thomas Aquinas’s understanding of song as “the exultation of the mind dwelling on eternal things, bursting forth in the voice”, the artist composed four hymns to the classical elements – earth, air, fire and water – in the summer of 2021.

To complete the cycle, he is now writing a fifth hymn dedicated to time and futurity. Based at the Centre for Narrative Practice for the duration of the biennial, Kadriu is researching the history and scope of the Byzantine chant as a form of collective philosophical and spiritual reflection.