Manifesta examines mining history
The ninth Manifesta, a European biennial exhibition for contemporary art, will be hosted in the former mining buildings of Waterschei in Limburg from June to September next year. The industrial history of the EU region will be the principle theme of the exhibition. Katerina Gregos, one of its curators, explained that Manifesta was emphatically looking at history, industrial heritage and social reflection this time. “It is the spirit of the place that we want to make tangible,” she said. The travelling biennial exhibition was first launched in Rotterdam in 1996, and has built up a solid reputation over the years. The organisers frequently selected peripheral regions for the exhibition, although this is merely appearance when it comes to Limburg, says director Hedwig Fijen, highlighting the central location of the mining region in between Liege, Maastricht and the Ruhr region, as well as its multi-ethnic microcosm. Mexican curator Cuauthémoc Medina is the central figure of the exhibition, and he selected three projects. The exhibition itself, which revolves around transformation, has been deliberately kept small, with 37 artists participating, all interacting with the industrial ruins. There will also be an exhibition on the age of coal mining in art, with 60 historical works. The third project deals with memory, focusing on the archive, the scars borne by the landscape and the testimony of former mine workers. The site will become a sustainable industrial park after the exhibition. The summer of 2012 is set to be a busy one for contemporary art, with no less than five events planned - Beaufort04 on the coast, Track in Ghent, the extension of the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp, Manifesta 9 in Genk and Newtopia in five different locations in Mechelen. They are joining forces and launching a joint campaign under the name Visual Arts in Flanders. The attention of cultural tourists descending on Documenta in Kassel Germany next year will be drawn on the large number of artistic places of interest in the region.