Hermitage to host Manifesta biennial
Exhibition will test increasingly conservative climate in St Petersburg
By Julia Michalska. Web only
Published online: 27 February 2013
The tenth edition of Manifesta, the nomadic European Biennial of Contemporary Art, will be hosted by the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, it has been announced today.
The biennial, which changes its location every edition, was launched shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall to encourage artistic dialogue between European countries formerly divided by the Iron Curtain. Manifesta 10 in 2014 will be the first edition to take place in an eastern European country.
“For our 20th jubilee edition, we wanted to reinvestigate our aims. Have we been true to them? And to what extent?” says Hedwig Fijen, the founding director of the biennial. “In this respect, we are grateful that the Hermitage offered to host Manifesta next year and that we can stage the exhibition in eastern Europe.”
The decision comes at a time when the Hermitage is under pressure from conservative critics. In October, Mikhail Piotrovsky, the director of the Hermitage, came under fire from nationalists and Orthodox believers for the exhibition “The End of Fun” of work by the British artists Jake and Dinos Chapman, which inaugurated the museum's contemporary art halls.
St Petersburg's controversial law banning “homosexual propaganda” may also prove to be a stumbling block. Fijen believes this makes the biennial's presence in the city all the more important: “Of course, we are concerned about the current conservative climate. But should we isolate all those countries that are not up to the full standard of human rights? Or should we try to build bridges and create a cultural dialogue?” Fijen asks.
Three candidates for the curator of the biennial will be invited to the Hermitage to research the museum and create a proposal for the concept of the exhibition. Fijen says she expects the appointment will be made in June around the time of the opening of the Venice Biennale.
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