artists & participants



press release

Manifesta 1 Rotterdam 1996
Foundation European Art Manifestation
Villa Museumpark 9

Kunsthal Rotterdam; Netherlands Architecture Institute, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Witte de With, center for contemporary art; Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam; Natural History Museum Rotterdam; Chabot Museum, Villa at Museumpark 9, Rotterdam Centre for the Arts, V2_Organisation, institute for the unstable media ...

curators: Katalyn Neray; Rosa Martinez, Viktor Misiano, Andrew Renton, Hans Ulrich Obrist


The newest European biennial takes place from 9 June to 19 August at a dozen sites in Rotterdam, all situated in the museum quarter. It is a co-operative event at ll levels: five independent curators from five different countries are responsible for the many diverse Manifesta exhibitions, making their choice by consensus to select 72 artists from 25 European nations. The curatorial team: Rosa Martínez (Barcelona), Viktor Misiano (Moscow), Katalin Néray (Budapest), Hans-Ulrich Obrist (Paris/Vienna) and Andrew Renton (London).

VENUES The underlying co-operative spirit of Manifesta is also reflected at the local level. For the first time ever, all the cultural institutions in Rotterdam's museum quarter have agreed to work together to make this event possible. The visitor to Manifesta 1 can take a walking tour of the various exhibitions at: the Kunsthal Rotterdam, Natural History Museum Rotterdam, Netherlands Architecture Institute, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Chabot Museum, Villa at Museumpark 9, Rotterdam Centre for the Arts, V2_Organisation, institute for the unstable media, Nederlands Foto Instituut (National Institute for Photography), Witte de With, center for contemporary art, The Policegallery, Maritime Museum 'Prins Hendrik' Rotterdam, and other sites.

PARTICIPATING ARTISTS The participating artists have been selected for their affinity with such thematic starting points chosen for Manifesta 1 as 'migration, communication, and translation,' 'the complex relationship between nature and culture,' and 'the search for cultural identity.' These are some of the oncepts which emerge from a larger debate about the nature of contemporary Europe.

PROJECTS An essential element distinguishing Manifesta 1 from all other art enterprises is its primary attention to the concept of the collaborative effort in Europe today. Nowadays it is clear that no-one can live in isolation. Not only did the five curators work as a co-operative, but also a large number of participants with shared interests are involved in colloborative projects. Manifesta 1 presents such dual projects as The Mosquito Van by Rosemarie Trockel and Carsten Höller, Cinéma Liberté by Douglas Gordon and Rirkrit Tiravanija, The Virtual Baby by Marie-Ange Guilleminot and Fabrice Hybert and Pavlov's Dog by Oleg Kulik and Mila Bredhikina.

A number of participants with shared interests will be involved in cooperative projects. One of these is the language laboratory that began at the Villa Alckmaer (Rotterdam Centre for the Arts) at the beginning of February and included artists Uri Tzaig (Jerusalem), Tracy McKenna (Glasgow) and Luca Quartana (Milan). The workshop is designed to test the ideas of artists whose work explores the ways in which languages function within the realm of the visual. The workshop aims to create a collaboration in which each individual's contribution nonetheless remain distinguishable. Communication, translation, and levels of meaning in the visual arts are of central concern. As Luca Quartana has stated: Translation makes communication into an artefact.

For the exhibition In Every Dream Home a Heartache at the Villa Museumpark 9, five artists present their interpretations of how the domestic space of a house can be a shelter as well as its own republic.

At Witte de With, the singing canaries in Carl Michael von Hausswolff's installation and Róza El-Hassan's loudspeakers purposely interfere with the works of the other participating artists. Their noises overflow the space allotted to them. The reality of the new Europe is often about migration and staking a claim to territory.

Other joint ventures include NEsTWORK, a collective of Rotterdam artists, a journalist and a philosopher which aims to foster connections and become a sounding board for the local and international art world, with a specific focus on the subject of belonging. During Manifesta 1, NEsTWORK will link the stories of people from Rotterdam with those tales told by their foreign guests.

Besides these collaborations, individual artists are creating works which are directly related to the space or context of a particular site. In the Natural History Museum, for example, biological structures and evolutionary processes will play an important role. At the Kunsthal, meanwhile, the deconstructed architectural space itself becomes a metaphor for the declining border between the static artwork and the flux of daily life.

In addition to the Manifesta exhibitions, Rotterdam artists, artists' initiatives and galleries will carry out projects linked to the issues of Manifesta, at various places in the city. Previewed are some artists projects for our Web Site at the Internet. Plans have already been made with the Rotterdam Foundation for Art Education and some Manifesta-artists for children's projects; The Rotterdam branch of De Bijenkorf, in conjunction with Manifesta, is mounting window displays under the title virtual shopping and the monthly magazine Blvd is including a special project by Wolfgang Tillmans in its summer issue. Cultural contamination is the issue. By targetting specific outlets and non-aligned organisations, Manifesta 1 brings new blood and fresh thought to the structure of a European art manifestation.