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.
The city of Luxembourg hosted the second edition of Manifesta, thereby asserting its presence on the European and international cultural scene. Manifesta 2 included works by 47 artists from all over Europe.
Instead of pre-defining the scope of the biennial within a specific theme, the curators decided that the second edition should be the result of extensive field research into contemporary art practices in Europe. This meant Europe at large, but with a particular focus on Central and Eastern Europe, as artists from this region - once subject to an almost fashionable interest - had gradually disappeared from the international scene. The research served as a conceptual basis for the programme, with the diversity of new commissions and selected artworks reflecting the complexity of European artistic practices.
The results of two years of curatorial preparation were accessible to the public in an Info Lab that included a library of countless catalogues, dossiers and other research material related to artists, art academies, exhibitions and institutions. The Info Lab hosted a series of workshops and discussions between art professionals from across the continent.
The curators focused on a new generation of young artists whose work bore signs of being “an art after communism,” as Robert Fleck, one of the curators, encapsulated it in his catalogue text. The research led the curators to question the reduction of eastern Europe to a singular, generalised concept.
Manifesta 2’s catalogue unveiled a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative insight into the infrastructure of contemporary visual art in approximately 30 European countries covering Eastern and Central Europe. Afterwards, the catalogue could be used as a primary source for the study of artistic activity in Europe.