Curated by Kasper König
Manifesta was founded in 1993, inspired by the changing European constellation brought about by the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 2013, on the eve of Manifesta’s 20th anniversary, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg was selected as the host for Manifesta 10 due to its expressed desire to research the notion and function of contemporary art and culture in a contested area.
The changing position of the Hermitage – which recently established its General Staff Building as a new wing dedicated to modern and contemporary art-along with its critical, intellectual, and historical relationship with East and West Europe stretching back to the eighteenth century, relate the institution to central themes in Manifesta’s identity as the single roving European biennial of contemporary art, focusing every two years on a different social-political and artistic context.
Manifesta 10 will consider the historical perspective of St. Petersburg’s view to the West, and its extensive relationship with Europe at large, while serving to intensify the artistic exchange made possible by the events of 1989 to 1991. While aiming to reach new audiences for contemporary art in Russia, it will intensify a critical discourse around art’s role in changing societies, and consider the gap in recent art history and exhibition-making that developed in the period of communism and post-communism.
Berlin-based Kasper König has been selected as Chief Curator of Manifesta 10. Among the numerous large-scale exhibitions that König has previously curated are Westkunst 1981 in Cologne; von hier aus-Zwei Monate neue deutsche Kunst in Düsseldorf, 1984; and Der zerbrochene Spiegel in Vienna and Hamburg, 1993. He was also the co-initiator of Skulptur Projekte Münster 1977. From 1988 to 1999 he was professor at the Städelschule in Frankfurt in which period he also founded Portikus in Frankfurt. König was the director of Museum Ludwig, Cologne from 2000 to 2012.
Manifesta 10 projects and public programs will be presented across the city, reaching the broader public through events and encounters with contemporary culture outside of the main Manifesta 10 venues, and staging a dialogue between the informal and the official. König, together with a team of young Russian and international experts, and Manifesta 10 Head of Public Programs Joanna Warsza intend the Public Program to embed itself in the social structures of the city, with special relevance for local audiences. A number of individuals, groups and interdisciplinary institutions in Russia will participate in the Parallel Program, providing insights into contemporary cultural life in St. Petersburg. Education and mediation programs will contribute to a culture of questioning and conversation surrounding the Biennial, both in the lead up to the event and throughout the exhibition period, providing tools to analyse the complex role of contemporary culture in Russia today.
Around 50 leading contemporary artists from Russia and around the world will participate. A number of artists will create new works specifically for Manifesta 10. The Biennial will be a landmark opportunity to experience and learn more about the geopolitical history of the site and venues, along with various positions within contemporary art, in the company of the works of historical excellence held in the Hermitage’s collection.