Manifesta

Press Conference Statement

++++ Martin Fritz, General Co-ordinator Manifesta 4. Speech held at the press conference at Frankfurter Kunstverein 25 January 2001
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++++ Manifesta is the question which purports to be its own answer
(with poetic license after Karl Kraus)

Paraphrasing Karl Kraus’ dictum on psychoanalysis, one could say: „Manifesta is the question which purports to be its own answer.“ Emerging in the period after the reforms (revolutions) in Europe, considerations on the future of biennials and the overcoming of their structures of prestigious representation were at the focus of attention.
Nomadic wandering through Europe, implementation by independent curators and the renunciation of national participation stood at the inception of this unfinished project along with the question concerning the place called Europe and the hope of trying out new forms of communicating contemporary art. In the idea ‘Manifesta’ and in the discussions initiated at each of the exhibitions, the openness of all the processes will be apparent which, thank goodness, are not yet borne by the conviction that they have attained conclusive knowledge.
Manifesta is not a city festival and it is also not tied to any fixed form. The event allows itself the luxury of pondering on its own conditions of existence every two years and developing them further in critical engagement with each host city. Only the principal boundary conditions are invariant: orientation toward the whole of Europe, selection by independent curators, no national quotas or delegations.
How should we begin? „The city as material?“, „Frankfurt as periphery“ (Nicolaus Schafhausen). A multitude of possible foci could be derived from the city. There is a rich spectrum of possible points of reference for artists and the team. The city is suitable as a starting point for very different artistic conceptions. Nevertheless, the horizon goes beyond that, and Manifesta is not concerned with solving local problems, let alone problems related to the city’s economy. The curators have the privilege of identifying current artistic (and thus social) trends and presenting them in appropriate forms. The fact that this includes dealing with the lack of canonized structures, which by now has become all-pervading, does not have to be especially emphasized.
Manifesta is a program in which various forms and formats can discover themselves anew. It is to be expected that an ‘exhibition’ will be part of the program, but this is not a prerequis-te. For this program we are hoping for impulses from partners in Frankfurt as well as from other places in Europe.
The first part of the preparatory period will run internally under the heading ‘Manifesta questions’ and will comprise:
Appointment of curators
Development of conceptual guidelines
Development of basic forms and ‘formats’
Development of structure for Europe-wide search for and seletion of artists
Identification of settings and integration of the event into the local context.
This phase will last until summer 2001. The organizers are concerned to provide the necessary calm and concentration for these processes and thus do not want to seek out public debate on them prematurely. Far from regarding Manifesta as a tradition, it holds true nevertheless: „A tradition of thinking only remains vital by proving itself and its essential intentions in the light of new experiences...“ (J. Habermas) These experiences still have to be gone through.
The first events in the run-up to Manifesta 4 are therefore planned for October 2001.
The event will present itself for discussion in the period from May to October 2002. There will thus be enough time to fulfil expectations or to productively disappoint them.

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von/by Martin Fritz

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