Manifesta I

Manifesta is a new international art manifestation, which takes place every two years in a different European city. The first edition of Manifesta took place in Rotterdam, at local art institutions. The curators of Manifesta 1 were Rosa Martinez (Barcelona), Viktor Misiano (Moscow), Katalin Néray (Budapest), Hans Ulrich Obrist (Paris/Vienna) and Andrew Renton (London). They conceived the manifestation around a series of themes, such as Declining and Becoming, Two Breeding Flowers Will Never Breed the Same, and Laboratory for Comparative Studies.

The tradition of large exhibitions on contemporary art has mainly been defined by documenta in Kassel and the Venice Biennial. These two manifestations represent the conventional models for group exhibitions: either the expression of the vision of one curator, or an unconnected assembly of national presentations.

Manifesta 1 intended to develop an alternative model for exhibitions of contemporary art.

The Manifesta curators, who chose the theme of migrations for the exhibition at Witte de With, selected the following eight artists for the exhibition at Witte de With: Róza El-Hassan (1966, Budapest), Carl Michael von Hausswolff (1964, Stockholm), Eva Marisaldi (1966, Bologna), Jenny Marketou (1951, Athens/New York), Hale Tenger (1960, Istanbul), Henrik Plenge Jacobsen (1967, Copenhagen/Paris), Uri Tzaig (1965, Tel Aviv) and Susann Walder (1959, Zurich).

It was intended that the theme do justice to the cultural diversity in Europe as well as be an exhibition model for interaction and collaboration. Migrations also referred to Manifesta’s aim to go beyond the dominant art-world conventions and boundaries, by being a biennial without a fixed location or identity. The exhibition at Witte de With could therefore be considered a model for the entire manifestation.

To reflect on this guest exhibition, Witte de With further organized a discussion about the implications of the exhibition model Manifesta 1 put forward. It was striking that Manifesta had presented itself, almost in opposition to its theme, as a strictly European biennial. Rasheed Araeen, founding editor of the art magazine Third Text (Third World Perspectives on Contemporary Art and Culture), questioned the curators and artists about the meaning and potential of such terms as migration, hybridity and flux within these boundaries.


  • Rasheed Araeen, Róza El-Hassan, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Eva Marisaldi, Jenny Marketou, Katalin Néray, Henrik Plenge Jakobsen, Hale Tenger, Uri Tzaig, Susann Walder


  • Rosa Martinez, Viktor Misiano, Katalin Néray, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Andrew Renton