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Manifesta 9 – Biennale d’arte contemporanea

The European Biennial of Contemporary Art

2 giugno – 30 settembre 2012, Genk, Limburg, Belgio

Manifesta 9, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art, si svolgerà dal 2 giugno al 30 settembre 2012 a Genk, Limburg, Belgio. In mostra le opere più innovative di artisti e curatori provenienti dall’Europa e non solo.  Al centro del progetto elaborato dai curatori Cuauhtémoc Medina, Katerina Gregos e Dawn Ades c’è il dialogo tra arte, memoria e storia.

Manifesta è l’unica Biennale nomade che cambia la sua posizione ogni due anni in base a considerazioni di tipo sociale, politico e geografico. Dal 1996 si è tenuta a Rotterdam, Lussemburgo, Lubiana, Francoforte, Donostia-San Sebastián, Nicosia (annullato), Trentino-Alto Adige e nella Regione di Murcia. Manifesta 9, quest’anno si svolgerà nel complesso ex carbonifera Waterschei in Genk, Limburg, in Belgio.

Fin dalla sua prima edizione 15 anni fa, Manifesta ha sempre cercato di abbattere le barriere, attraversando le frontiere e costruendo nuovi ponti, incorporando mostre, spettacoli, esperimenti multimediali. Manifesta 9 ha sempre messo in luce il meglio del pensiero creativo, della ricerca e della sperimentazione, con la partecipazione di singoli artisti e di comunità artistiche provenienti da ambienti diversi da tutto il mondo.





Manifesta 9 – The Deep of the Modern
The European Biennial of Contemporary Art
2 June – 30 September, 2012 Genk, Limburg, Belgium

The Deep of the Modern intends to create a complex dialogue between different layers of art and history. Its point of departure is the significance of the former coalmining region of Belgian Campine as a locus of industrial capitalism’s imaginary and ecology. The remains of the Waterschei mine in Genk, Limburg, which comprise the main venue of Manifesta 9, are not the only protagonists in this story. The Deep of the Modern was perhaps most inspired by the overall geographical-ecological “mining machine” that transformed the region over the course of the 20th century, giving rise to a complex landscape of garden cities, landscape planning, canals, roads and railroads.
The Deep of the Modern will develop as a dialogue between three different sections: 

Poetics of Restructuring. This section consists of contributions from 39 contemporary artists, focusing on aesthetic responses to the worldwide “economic  restructuring” of the productive system in the early 21st century, and developments in industrialism, post-industrialism and global capitalism. The selected works will  interact as directly as possible with the current state of ruin of the building and its  immediate surroundings. The curatorial team has worked to create a balance  between time-based works, installations, and other artistic media, and to provide a  geographically and gender diverse representation of contemporary artistic practice  today.
The Age of Coal. An art historical exhibition comprising artworks from 1800 to the early 21st century about the history of art production aesthetically related to the  industrial era. This essay on a new kind of Material Art History is organized into  several thematic sections with artworks in which coal played an important role. Coal  as the main fuel of industry, as a major factor of environmental change, as a fossil  with significant consequences in the field of natural science, as the main referent of  certain forms of working class culture and as a material symbolic of the experience of  modern life. In short, The Age of Coal examines how coal affected and defined  artistic production.
17 Tons. In addition to the two sections dedicated to art, Manifesta 9 will include a new element: an exploration of the cultural production that has been powered by the  energy of memory that runs through the diverse heirs of coal mining in the Campine  region of Limburg, as well as several other industrial regions in Europe. This section  is the product of a collaboration between individuals and institutions who, coming  from disparate disciplines and practicing different social forms of agency, continue to  activate the collective memory and the preservation of both the material and  immaterial heritage of coalmining. The title of the show refers simultaneously to the  most famous song of coal miners around the world (16 Tons, recorded in 1946 by  Merle Travis) and to the title of one of Marcel Duchamp’s most famous installations (Sixteen Miles of String, 1942). The discrepancy between 16 and 17 is meant to  suggest the need to take a step beyond the current stage of the coal industry’s  memory claims.
Although the exhibition is divided into different sections – all brought together in this  single building in Waterschei – there are thematic, poetic, and methodological  affinities that interlace the works of all three of its sections. The selection and  organization of the exhibition aim to create resonances between the different levels  and elements of the show across different times, genres and positions within the  building. We hope that the contemporary artworks will provide novel insights into the  art historical objects and heritage practices represented, and vice versa. In that  sense The Deep of the Modern places its trust in the power of the exhibition and in  the audience’s ability to make sense of the three exhibits by comparing and working  through different elements of cultural production.  

Manifesta 9 proposes to redirect the course of Manifesta toward an advocacy of art  production and historical knowledge as loci of aesthetic and social reflexivity and  intergenerational responsibility. In that sense, the exhibition reflects the complex  mediation of artworks, images, historical information and cultural institutions in the  production of modern and post-industrial ways of thinking. The three sections  attempt to explore the ways that art and culture are immanent to the social  processes that both record and transform the outlook of specific social formations.


Head of the Curatorial Department is the Mexican curator Cuauhtémoc Medina. 

Cuauhtémoc Medina is critic, curator and art  historian, holds a PHD in History and Theory of Art  (PhD) from the University of Essex, UK and a degree in  History from Universidad Autónoma de México. He is a  research fellow at Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas  of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.  Medina was the first Associate Curator of Latin  American Art in the collections of Tate Modern and  curated events and exhibitions like When Faith moves Mountains with Francis Alÿs (Lima, Peru, 2001), The  Age of Discrepancies. Art and Visual Culture in Mexico  1968-1997 (co-curated with O. Debroise, P. García & A. Vazquez, 2007-2008). In  2009 he curated What else could we talk about?, the project by Teresa Margolles  presented at the Mexican Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 2010 he organised  Dominó Caníbal, for PAC Murcia, Spain.

The other members of the curatorial team of Manifesta  9 are associate curators  Katerina Gregos and Dawn Ades.

Katerina Gregos (born in Athens, Greece; based in Brussels, Belgium) is an art historian, curator and  writer. She is currently curator of Newtopia: The State  of Human Rights, Mechelen, Belgium. In 2011 she curated the Danish Pavilion at the 54 th Venice Biennale,  with Speech Matters, an international group exhibition  on freedom of speech. That year she was also cocurator of the 4 th  Fotofestival Mannheim Ludwigshafen  in Germany. In 2006/2007 she was the artistic director  of Argos – Centre for Art & Media in Brussels and prior  to that she was the founding director of the Deste  Foundation – Centre for Contemporary Art, Athens. As an independent curator  Gregos has also curated numerous international exhibitions including Hidden in  Remembrance is the Silent Memory of Our Future, Contour 2009 – The 4th Biennial  for Moving Image, in Mechelen, Belgium (2009); Give(a)way: on Generosity, Giving,  Sharing and Social Exchange, the 6th Biennial E V+ A: Exhibition of Visual Art,  Limerick, Ireland (2006). Katerina Gregos regularly publishes on art and artists in  magazines, books and exhibition catalogues, and is a frequent speaker in  international conferences, biennials and museums worldwide. She is also a visiting  lecturer at HISK – The Higher Institute of Arts, Antwerp.
Dawn Ades is a fellow of the British Academy, a former trustee of Tate and was awarded an OBE in 2002 for her services to art history. She has been responsible for some of the most important exhibitions  in London and overseas over the past thirty years,  including Dada and Surrealism Reviewed (1978), Art in  Latin America (1989) and Undercover Surrealism  (2006). Dawn Ades has a remarkably wide knowledge  of the social and poetic dynamics of modernism and the  avant-garde both in Europe and the Americas.

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