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.
Frankfurt was selected to host the fourth edition of Manifesta, with over 90 international artists and collectives, on account of its excellent cultural infrastructure, the city’s role as financial centre of the Eurozone, and the great willingness of individuals and institutions in the city to support the event.
Manifesta 4’s collective of three female curators from Bulgaria, Spain and France aimed to move away from a focus on specific political and geographical areas, and to concentrate rather on developments in contemporary artistic practice across the continent of Europe. They eschewed an overarching theme in favour of putting mobility, process and interactions around exhibitionmaking and critical cultural theory at the heart of the project.
As part of Manifesta 4, the curators publicly displayed the dossiers of all the artists they had considered, including those that were not selected. A range of cultural institutions and media organisations, including a library, a radio station, an ethnological institute and an independent art publisher, collaborated in organising participatory and interdisciplinary aspects of the biennial.
The edition’s vast and varied topography allowed the display of newly commissioned artworks in Frankfurt’s diverse public and institutional spaces, including the riverbanks and subway stations.
In addition there was the Manifesta 4 Gasthof programme which in collaboration with Frankfurt’s art academy the Staatlichen Hochschule für Bildende Künste and Daniel Birnbaum offered an extensive public programme parallel to Manifesta 4. They hosted hundreds of art students from international art academies for a week, providing them with accommodation and enabling them to visit the biennial and engage in workshops with renowned artists.
Gasthof questioned the status and format of the art academy and was ultimately the precursory model for Manifesta 6 in Nicosia.