Manifesta is a European Biennial of Contemporary Art. Unlike most art biennials, Manifesta is held in different locations each time. Manifesta is innovative in that it is also considered a networking event for young professionals from around the world. The biennial offers an important platform for emerging artists as well as an incredible online and interactive digital catalogue that allows viewers to easily navigate the entirety of Manifesta.
This year, the biennial takes place from June 2nd until September 30th at the site of the former Waterchei Mine in Genk in the Province of Limburg, Belgium. This relatively small city of 64,000 residents is one of the major industrial centers of Flanders, and was historically one of Belgium’s largest coal producing regions. Today, Genk, like many other Western European mining centers dealing with a “charcoal-past,” has invested heavily in innovative ways to transform the industrial complexes and scarred earth left over from mining into something useful and environmentally friendly yet still contextualized within the regions industrial history. This year’s biennial is exceptionally impressive because not only will it be presenting an exciting selection of contemporary art, but it will also showcase historical works as well as objects, artifacts and histories related to mining and industrialized capitalism.
The concept of Manifesta 9 was developed by curator Cuahtemor Medina from Mexico City. The idea was to address the social and societal impact of the recent past of Limburg as a metaphor the larger implications of industrialized capitalism . The Deep of Modern exhibition is divided into three sections. The first section, titled Poetics of Restructuring, holds works from 39 international contemporary artists who were invited to create new work, keeping in mind a regional context and linking this local theme with global issues. The art historical section - The Age of Coal - provides an overview of art works from the 19th and 20th centuries with the impact of coal serving as the central subject. 17 Tons is the title of the third section, focusing primarily on the legacy that the Limburg mining industry has left behind within cultural production.
Some Manifesta 9 highlights include Bernar Venet, David Hammons, Nemanj Cvijanovic, Jan Haber, Armand Guillaumin, Tom McGuinness, Joseph Stella, and Norman Cornish – to name a few! Be sure to explore Manifesta’s beautifully designed digital catalogue for a more in-depth examination of the works included in this impressive examination of the intersections of art, culture and industry!