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"Our task is to conduct an orchestra"
Frankfurter Rundschau | 05.04.2002
++++ The three curators of Manifesta 4 on instability and the renunciation of a theme for the biennial.

++++ The fourth biennial of contemporary art, Manifesta, opens in Frankfurt on 24 May. For three months at various venues, around 90 young participants from all over Europe will exhibit their works. The Frankfurter Rundschau correspondent, Silke Hohmann, spoke with the three curators of Manifesta 4, Iara Boubnova, Nuria Enguita Mayo and Stéphanie Moisdon Trembley.
FR: What state are you and Manifesta in at the moment?
Nuria Enguita Mayo: In a good state. Things are going ahead. Almost all the participating artists have already been here and the planning for the exhibition is 99% completed.
FR: At your first large press conference last week you announced that the concept of Manifesta 4 is that it does not have a concept. Aren't you making things a little too easy?
Nuria Enguita Mayo: On the contrary, it would be much easier for us to have laid down a strict framework for content, but that would have been much less interesting. I do not think much of the dominant theoretical structures. They make the work of artists into merely an illustration of the curator's ideas.
FR: Does the motto, Anything goes, apply to Manifesta 4?
Iara Boubnova: We want to deal adequately with contemporary themes and we happen to be living in a situation which is anything other than stable. Something changes every second and that is the feeling which we want to try to get across. Manifesta is even a rather strong system. It merely does not call itself such because Manifesta does not want to impose limits.
FR: Does that mean that the widespread practice of subsuming exhibitions under a thematic concept places limits the perception of art?
Stéphanie Moisdon Trembley: We would like to see another perception of art. It is much more important to us that the completely differing practices of the artists are understood than that an overarching theme is fulfilled.
Iara Boubnova: Our aim is not representation; we just want to show, and that at a very early stage in the development of the individual artists before they have gained international recognition and prizes. For many it is their first exhibition. They are only responsible for themselves and their work, not for our ideas. Our task is to conduct an orchestra and not to manipulate an army.
FR: The selection of around 90 participants from more than one thousand must nevertheless have taken place according to criteria relating to content.
Nuria Enguita Mayo: We travelled all over Europe and always looked around for two or three days at how the artists worked in their respective environments. We selected also on the basis of the local and transnational relevance of the works. Our big challenge is to transfer the specific contents to Frankfurt.
FR: How do you want to position Manifesta within the imminent marathon of art and public events which includes the Museums’ Night, the documenta in Cassel, the art fair Art Frankfurt and various other festivals in the city?
Stéphanie Moisdon Trembley: In the first place, one should not confuse the point of view of the public toward a cultural program with the individual relationship of a visitor to art. We want to make specific connections and do not want to produce a public event. For this reason we will not be having an opening spectacle. This underscores the project character which is essential for Manifesta.
FR: You are not making it easy for visitors to find some point of access.
Iara Boubnova: Despite that we are sure that both the people whom we will be inviting and those who are in Frankfurt anyway will take part in the cultural discourse.
FR: The Swiss artist, Christoph Büchel, has just auctioned off his rights to participate for xxx euros. Have you ever asked yourselves whether that is a critical commentary on Manifesta?
Iara Boubnova: Yes, certainly. That's why we wanted to have him.

von/by Silke Hohmann

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