Manifesta 10 launches in St. Petersburg

The tenth edition of the peripatetic European Biennial of Contemporary Art has launched at the Winter Palace and the General Staff Building of the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
It is a fascinating time for Manifesta 10 to be taking place, given that one, it is the twentieth anniversary of the art fair, and two, it comes as tensions between Russia and the West are at their most strained since the Cold War.
Therefore, the organisers’ desire to examine the history of this powerful nation and how it has shaped the world, right or wrong, is somewhat prescient. Moreover, the legacy of its influence and singular approach to politics continues to this very day.
Consequently, it is fair to say that the tenth edition is a somewhat poignant one, charged even, with ample capacity to explore the apparent and inherent instability of life in a globalised age.
Moreover, this is also the hundredth anniversary of the first world war, a conflict that managed to envelop most of humanity in a bloody conflict, whose legacy is still arguably being played out. History does, in fact, repeat itself over and over again.
“Manifesta 10 is a complex entity and one that invites both its artists and visitors to assume their own positions, raise questions, and indeed voices,” commented its curator Kasper König.
“It runs the gamut of the intricacy and contradiction that art has to offer, and shows us the ways that art can provoke engagement while opposing the simplifications of our times.”
He added that it was his belief that the presence of critical contemporary art in the Hermitage, one of the oldest and most prominent institutions of its kind, will have a positive impact across the board.
Mr König said that the event “will contribute to pluralistic and healthy debate on complexity, ethics, and aesthetics and also produce conditions for us to deeply consider and challenge ourselves”.
Over 50 artists from 30 countries will showcase their work against a backdrop of performances, public talks and educational programmes. Some of the commissioned artists include Karla Black, Guy Ben-Ner, Rineke Dijkstra, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Alevtina Kakhidze, Erik van Lieshout, Yasumasa Morimura, Tatzu Nishi, Susan Phillipsz, and Otto Zitko.
Hedwig Fijen, founding director of Manifesta, said that this edition had been born from a “Shakespearean dilemma and questions about whether to engage or disengage, stands for the spirit of independence and expression that informed Manifesta’s beginnings”.
She added: “While our work may be conducted in realms of debate, negotiation, mediation, and diplomacy, it has achieved its result: providing a stage for art to present criticality, complexity, and nuance.”
Manifesto 10 at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg runs until October 31st 2014.
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