Why Zurich

«This choice of Zurich for 2016 is related to the question
‘where are we now?’ from the perspective of Zurich we would have an unusual vantage point on the current European status of crisis.»

Hedwig Fijen, Director of manifesta

Why was Zurich selected as host of Manifesta 11?

Every two years Manifesta takes place in a new Host City. Manifesta explores the genius loci and serves as a think tank to re-identify how we live, work, think and see our future here in Europe in the context of the growing challenges of economic recession, migration, climate change. Manifesta also studies and hypothesises on how these effect our changing habitats, our thinking and our society. Because of its migratory existence, Manifesta is able to mount a diverse and ongoing analysis of the state of European culture.

Manifesta 11, with its theme What People Do for Money: Some Joint Ventures, focuses attention on the relation between artistic work and labour. In our post-industrial age, it is a concept that resonates acutely with life not only in Zurich but in the rest of the world.

Manifesta 11 in Zurich is something of a collective experiment, questioning the identity of the city Manifesta 11 in Zurich is something of a collective experiment, questioning the identity of the city through interactions with its citizens. What do we do with our lives? How do we work together? We hope Manifesta 11 stimulates questions for all its visitors and opens up new and exciting ways into contemporary art.

Who selects the host cities of Manifesta?

European cities may apply to host Manifesta. The concept of the potential host’s bid ulti-mately determines which city or region is chosen as host by the Board of the International Foundation Manifesta in Amsterdam. The Director of the International Foundation Manifesta, Hedwig Fijen, selects the city which fits mostly in Manifesta’s strategic vision of how cities represent a certain stage of transformation or unique status quo in dealing with climate change and migration. This is why Manifesta is specifically interested in hosting the biennial in cities around the Medi-terranean, where the effect of migration because of climate change will be most visible and tangible on how we live in urban environments and how we organise our cities in the future. Sometimes Manifesta pro-actively looks for cities or regions themselves.

What role did Zurich’s history as a centre of art play?

Zurich continues to demonstrate its great potential as a city of historically exciting arti- stic structure and developments with a rich culture of discourse. The city in which Dada was born, the centre of 'Neues Bauen', where 'die Gute Form' all started, the home of Swiss design and the concrete artists Max Bill and Richard Paul Lohse, aims to put down a new art-historical marker with Manifesta 11. Manifesta 11 adds a contemporary, international and visionary dimension to the festivities marking the centenary of Dada. 

Who selected the curator and what role does he play?

For this 11th edition of Manifesta, the curator was selected by a specially convened committee, under the guidance of the Director of Manifesta, Hedwig Fijen. Following initial research, three candidates were invited to explore the city and present a precise concept for Manifesta 11 to the selection committee. Christian Jankowski is the first artist selected to be the single curator of a Manifesta biennial. 

Why was an artist selected as a curator of Manifesta 11?

Video and conceptual artist Christian Jankowski was chosen as the sole curator of Manifesta 11 thanks to the central principles in his artistic investigations: collaboration, the inclusion of new, non-art-professional audiences and the reflection on mass-media formats. These principles are also at the core of Jankowski‘s concept for Manifesta 11, What People Do for Money: Some Joint Ventures, which stimulates a direct interaction between local audiences and the process of artistic practices. 

Why is Manifesta more than an exhibition?

Manifesta is more than the sum total of single exhibitions: it is a biennial with research as its core value. Through all its projects, Manifesta defines the actual status of the constantly changing European cultural landscape by contextualising the geo-political issues that determine its dynamics. Manifesta is an itinerant biennial, changing its locations every two years in response to site specific and current artistic imperatives, as well as a variety of social, political and geographical considerations. Manifesta engages in an in-depth analysis of the status and characteristics of a regional and cultural European context – and in 2016, this is in Zurich, Switzerland. 

What kind of audiences is Manifesta 11 aimed at?

Manifesta 11 is aimed to attract a sustainable, broad audience of both professionals and non-professionals. In addition to the local inhabitants of Zurich and the surrounding regions, Manifesta 11 hopes to attract those who are enthusiastic about learning about their city and country. Our high standards of art mediation and extensive support programme ensure a continuous dialogue with both younger and older generations. The Manifesta 11 Parallel Events, which take place with each Manifesta edition, invite a range of diverse local and regional artistic and multi-disciplinary programmes and institutions to participate in a joint collateral framework programme. 

How political is manifesta?

Manifesta acts as a mirror of the socio-political and cultural conditions of its host city. At the same time, it reflects the overall geo-political situation in a Europe that, now more than ever, finds itself in a crisis visible in the current economic and migration debates. It originated in the turbulent era around the fall of the Berlin Wall in response to the political, economic and social changes following the end of the Cold War. As a roving biennial, Manifesta generates and includes new audiences, promoting contem- porary art’s ability to broaden and deepen conversations between local communities, political grassroots organisations and NGOs. It serves as a platform and resource for critical discourse around the socio-political and cultural conditions of its host city and Europe at large. 

How is Manifesta 11 organised?

The main office of Manifesta (based in Amsterdam) and the City of Zurich have founded a new organisational and governance entity for Manifesta 11, directed by Hedwig Fijen, which is responsible for the entire realisation of the biennial edition. 

How is Manifesta 11 funded?

Manifesta 11 is a collaboration between the City of Zurich and the Manifesta Foundation in Amsterdam. As with every edition of Manifesta, Manifesta 11 has its own international permanent team of specialists, which synergises with a local team of art professionals. 

How politically independent is Manifesta? 

Manifesta operates completely independently of political parties or commercial enterprises, and is a private, non-commercial organisation whose foundation has its permanent headquarters in Amsterdam. 

Where will Manifesta 12 take place and why?

Manifesta 12 will take place in Palermo, Sicily in 2018.

The City of Palermo was important for Manifesta’s selection board for its representation of two important themes that identify contemporary Europe: migration and climate change, and how these issues impact our cities. The multi-layered and deeply condensed history of Palermo – being occupied by almost every European civilisation and having long-term connections with Northern Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean over the last 2000 years – has left its traces throughout this multi-cultural society at the heart of the Mediterranean area.

Manifesta 12 will investigate how great the role of cultural intervention can be in allowing the Palermitani citizens to take back ownership of their city. Manifesta 12 in Palermo will act as a grass-root incubator supporting the local communities with cultural interventions: this will help to rethink the city in their socio-economical and cultural structures and will use the existing informal profile of the city to act as a platform for social change.

Where will Manifesta 13 take place and why?

Manifesta 13 will take place in Marseille, in France in 2020.

From the Odyssey to the current migrant crisis, the port city of Marseille is a place from which to acknowledge the weight and presence of the Mediterranean Sea in the historical construct of the European identity. More than ever, water and environmental challenges need to be examined within the political ecology of past and current conflicts. As far as its urban territory, Marseille offers an ideal setting to think a non-dualist re-appropriation of nature within the social form of the city – soon becoming a metropolis. Manifesta 13 in Marseille, the second largest city in France, will be the opportunity to look at the past and think about the present challenges Europe is facing from a people’s perspective and from a shared public space. Voices and forms would certainly be multiples, diverse and powerful.

How will the central thematics of Manifesta be continued in Palermo and Marseille?

Palermo and Marseille are both cities with an inherent connection to the sea. Migration, the economy and also the environment have always been at the heart of their being. With these issues now coming to a head in the current world economic, social, environmental and political upheavals and developments, they are cities that are ideal to be used as an exploratory base for Manifesta.