This edition of Manifesta in Murcia and Cartagena, Spain, clearly shows that, every now and again, art feels the need to question its role. Asking "What do we do?" is always a good starting point for a new direction. Manifesta remains true to the idea of opening itself up to art and the young curatorial scene. In the case of this 8th edition, there is also a desire to rediscover social criticism in art.
For this reason, the roving Biennial is curated this time by three curatorial collectives, ACAF, CPS and tranzit.org, which have come up with different interpretations. The result is a medley of viewpoints in which works, performances and educational projects create situations that are very different from each other and not homogeneous. Basically, Manifesta 8 seems to be attempting a pedagogic project (in this sense it is in accord with the seventh edition in Nicosia, cancelled), more in continuity with the university than the professional art world. Even the audience at the opening consisted largely in students and many young people. We have chosen some of the most interesting works within this archipelago of proposals.
Banu Cennetoglu and Shiri Zinn
The Turkish artist, whose work follows post-conceptual tradition with the creation of archives and artists' books in which photograph and text are always crucial elements, has revisited a work by Shiri Zinn, a transparent dildo with a large hair tail, inside which she has put soil from a site in Murcia once intended for exhibitions. It is a sort of ironic monument to sanctity and the goddess of the historic memory of the exhibition.
A project produced in collaboration with an association for the visually impaired. You walk into a large dark room and, flattened against the wall, have a sensory olfactive experience of spices and other aromas placed on the walls. It is of great impact and forms a true tangent between the art experience and the sensory one of sight deprivation.
Many works of art presented at this Manifesta have with a social backdrop and this was one of the most convincing. A video installation shows an encounter between six prisoners in a young offenders' institution and six long-term adult prisoners. What comes to light is a comparison between two different generations of a parallel society (that of the prison) with its representations, its secret dreams and its nightmares. The strategies of a social life with totally different codes from those of civil society.
Sung Huan Kim
This Korean artist has worked for years with Joan Jonas in New York and proposes an intelligent revisiting of the idea of performance, in which an oneiric component is added to the concept of everyday life, with characters that seem to exist in the artist's mind as ghosts. It is a rereading of everyday life in New York through the eyes of a well-integrated Asian.
Willie Doherty WD's reappearance on the international art scene is a good return. His ability to fix the details of an experience such as the life of the Segura River in Murcia recorded in its sure advancing flow with the micro-events that occur on its banks is a portrayal of our everyday lives in all their complexity.
This young artist possesses the energy and ability for considerable action. His work is a comment on a reality that changes minute by minute and our dramatic relationship with the passive experience of reality lived via the television. This is a representation of the present that retrieves the concept of story as collectively perceived.
This young English artist of French origin presents a video installation in which a woman describes the city of Alexandria in Egypt. The installation consists in a dual video projection focusing on two moments in the city's history bound to work and migration and reflects on the difficulty of portraying recent history in the present.
Maurizio Bortolotti, Curator