Home Magazine Manifesta ready to restart from Marseille to Pristina

In spite of the worst COVID forecasts responsible for the postponement of fairs and biennials all over the world, Manifesta13 has declared officially it's opening in Marseille on 28 August. Not only that, with the intent to launch a further positive message and look to the future of the event, on the occasion of the press conference held in Pristina on May 3, 2019, the Director of the biennial Manifesta, Hedwig Fjen, the mayor of Pristina Shpend Ahmeti, the Councilor for Culture of the Municipality of Pristina Blerta Bosholli and the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport of the Republic of Kosovo Kujtim Gashi, has formalized Pristina as the city of Manifesta14.

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Since its foundation in the early 1990s, Manifesta's mission has been to investigate how culture in Europe is transformed. Every two years, Manifesta changes location and carries out its research in Europe looking at it through the lenses of the new host city. The Supervisory Board and the director of Manifesta have selected the city of Pristina in Kosovo for the geographical and geopolitical importance of the Balkans in relation to the recent history of Europe and its future. The current capital of the youngest sovereign state in Europe, Pristina has undergone major transformations during its history, also due to the recent neoliberal policies of privatization of public spaces. Manifesta would like to be the opportunity for Kosovo citizens to reclaim their public space and rewrite the future of their city, an open-minded metropolis in the heart of the Balkans.

Pristina, the historic capital of Kosovo, seems to be the ideal place to look into the past and think about the current challenges that Europe is facing from a unique and heterogeneous perspective. This rapidly evolving urban center, at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Europe, will allow Manifesta 14 to explore how contemporary culture and social practices can help highlight the identity of a country as composite as polymorphic.

Pristina was selected by the Manifesta Foundation Council to host the 14th edition of the Biennale based on the official offer presented by the Municipality of Pristina. The council received offers from various European cities and undertook extensive research on each application. The selection of the host city, three years in advance of the opening of the Biennale is part of a strategy aimed at ensuring greater involvement with the host region.

Shpend Ahmeti, Mayor of the City of Pristina:

Our city is proud and honored to host Manifesta in 2022. In a place where 50 percent of its hospitable population are younger than 25, where Ottoman architecture is mixed with postwar neoliberal philosophy, there is a lot to discuss, there is a lot to do and there is a lot of public space to reclaim. Manifesta is what we need not only to push for an honest discussion about the direction of the city but also as an example of the rebirth of cities, art and architecture in Western Balkans. Manifesta has given the most important answer to our bid – Balkans is Europe and we can contribute to the debate.

Hedwig Fijen, Director of Manifesta:

As the bid proclaimed, Kosovo seems to be going through its own quiet revolution in terms of mobility. An increase in exchange between the new region revitalises historical relationships but also creates surprising connections. This freedom to move within the region has given Kosovars a new way to think about themselves, how they organise their life, and how they experience themselves in relation to the region and the world at large. Besides, Kosovo is not only located within its sovereign territory but is manifested in a lively diaspora all around the world. The cultural, legal and political paralysis of the 1990s resulted in a loss of sense of public space and a lack of recognition for what is common. I wish Manifesta can provide Pristina the means to reconstruct, redefine and reclaim a radicalised and diverse public space, which still seems to be today regarded as a cultural subversive act, which can become a call for change.

Cover image: The National Library of Kosovo in Pristina. Photo by Ferdi Limani. 

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