Manifesta in Palermo: a project based on community
Manifesta, the nomadic European Contemporary Art Biennial, originated in the early nineties in response to the political, economic and social changes following the end of the Cold War and the subsequent steps towards European integration. Since then, Manifesta has developed into a travelling platform that focuses on the dialogue between art and society in Europe. Manifesta is a project based on community: its success depends on the collaboration between the international and local actors and the involvement and engagement of the local communities.
Migration and Climate Change
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 changes and how these issues impact our cities. The multi-layered and deeply condensed history of Palermo – being occupied by almost every European civilization 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.
According to Hedwig Fijen, Manifesta Director, "Manifesta 12 in Palermo is a great challenge to rethink how far cultural interventions can play a role in helping re-shaping one of the most iconic Mediterranean crossroads in our history as part of a long term transformation process. Manifesta 12 will raise questions such as: “Who owns the city of Palermo?” and “how to claim back the city?“ The city’s migration problems are symbolic of the far wider crisis situation which the whole of Europe is facing right now.”
Leoluca Orlando, Mayor of Palermo“ says that Manifesta 12 in Palermo in 2018 will be a fantastic opportunity for the city to reinvigorate its local and international identity. It is a moment for Europe to appreciate the significance of its Mediterranean dimension and identity: Palermo brings Manifesta to the Mediterranean and the Mediterranean to Europe. Manifesta 12 is an opportunity to celebrate Palermo for what it really is: a laboratory for the humanities, arts and culture. The city will be able to renew itself and pave a way for its future.”
Rethink the basic architectural, urban, economic, social and cultural structures of the city
Manifesta 12’s main ambition is to work in a truly interdisciplinary way with local communities in order to rethink the basic architectural, urban, economic, social and cultural structures of the city. Manifesta 12 can 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 can 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.
The upcoming pre-biennial program will start in building the process for a sustainable theoretical framework and will set out the parameters of the city’s revitalisation process. In this phase, Manifesta would like to activate the communities of Palermo in the identification of its mission statement and objectives, as well as the challenges, expectations and outcomes of Manifesta 12.
Oma as Creative Mediator
The Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) has been invited by the Director of Manifesta, Hedwig Fijen,
to mediate the complex architectural and urban structure of the city of Palermo. OMA will put together an interdisciplinary team to investigate the role of city governance and address how contemporary cities are affected by tourism, gentrification, migration and climate change.
The OMA team, led by partner Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, will investigate the urban, social and cultural
transformations of Palermo and will work together with specialists from the fields of contemporary art,
sociology, music, cinema and architecture. Manifesta 12 will feature a series of interactive, interdisciplinary,
performative and artistic interventions.
The focus is on how Manifesta 12 can help to develop new rules or instruments for local communities to reclaim their city. OMA, as an architecture office and research centre, is the right partner for Manifesta 12 because of their broad interest in how cities are affected by major geo-political issues. OMA's team of specialists will help to translate the programmatic vision into an accessible biennial program in 2018, taking place in various locations in Palermo.