Countdown for Manifesta 12 in Palermo. Few guidelines for the 12th European Biennale

Elisabetta Rastelli - 13 Jun 2018

Art magazine - art news - Countdown for Manifesta 12 in Palermo. Few guidelines for the 12th European Biennale

In addition to being named Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2018, Palermo will be taking the opportunity to showcase more of its cultural and historic riches, thanks to the twelfth edition of the world’s only nomadic European Biennal of contemporary art and culture: Manifesta 12.  

Manifesta 12 will take place in Palermo, from the 16th June until the 4th of November 2018, with the title "The Planetary Garden. Cultivating Coexistence" as the Director Hedwing Fijen said:

With this theme we want to remagine Palermo as a sort of laboratory for diversity and cross-pollination, a space in which to diagnose the problems of our time and reflect on our various co-dependencies and shared responsibilities the concept explores coexistence in a world moved by invisible networks, transnational private interest, algorithmic intelligence and ever-increasing inequalities through the unique lens of Palermo, a center where continuous migration - from the ancient Greeks, the Arabs and the Normans to the recent arrival from Northern Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East - has constantly redefined the city and its people


Manifesta 12, Chiesa SS. Euno e Giuliano, Palermo, 2017. Photo by CAVE Studio. Courtesy Manifesta

The main objective from the Creative Mediators - Bregtje van der Haak, Andrés Jaque, Ippolito Pastellini Laparelli and Mirjam Varadinis - is to act as an incubator for Palermo and engage with local groups and professionals who are involved in production, activism and cultural collaboration.

The creative mediators choose to be “radically local in engaging with the city in all of its diverse components”. This idea of the garden as a place where diverse forms of life can co-exist has become a source of inspiration also through the presence of Palermo’s botanical garden. Orto Botanico, was founded in 1789 as a laboratory of nature, study, experimentation and to mix and gather diverse species. In 1997, french botanist Gilles Clèment described the world as a “Planetary garden”, twenty years later, the metaphor of the planet as a manageable garden is still relevant, not as space for humans to take control, but rather as a site where gardeners recognise their dependency on other species.


Manifesta12, Hindu Temple, vie de Spuches, Palermo Atlas. Photo Delfino Sisto Legnani. Courtesy OMA Manifesta 12 

Manifesta12, Palazzo Forcella De Seta. Photo by Cave Studio. Courtesy Manifesta.  

One of the key characteristics of “The Planetary  Garden” is to have an interdisciplinary approach thanks to a group of specialists with different skills. This will be evident through the diversity of the project that will extend beyond contemporary art into different disciplines and also with the presence of 4 main sections, each touching on key topics of the concept: 

  • Teatro Garibaldi in Piazza Maggiore (the headquarters of Manifesta) hosts a library, cafè and program of public events, but above all the project "Palermo Atlas" by OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) and coordinated by Ippolito Pastellini Laparelli (italian partner of OMA) to redefine the urban spaces of Palermo. The project will be extended to Chiesa dei Santi Euno e Giuliano, Palazzo Butera and the Orto Botanico. 
  • Garden of flow rigged up inside the Orto Botanico to explore toxicity, plant life and the culture of gardening through a tour with gardeners that will take care of both the different point of view of the visitors and transnational commons. Here there is also another collateral event Radiceterna (a permanent library and a series of exhibitions in the project room inside the Calidarium of the Botanical Gardens).
  •  Out of control room will investigate power in today’s regime of global flows. The main location is inside the Orto Botanico. 
  • City on stage will build on existing opportunities in the centre and outskirts of Palermo, different projects focus on productive collaborations with the local populations. An example of this concept can be found in the outlying district ZEN inspired by Gilles Clément.


Manifesta12, Palazzo Costantino. Photo by Cave Studio. Courtesy Manifesta.  

The press office of Manifesta announced the list of principal artists: the brazilian Maria Thereza Alves with her installation A Proposal for Syncretism (this time without genocide) inside to Palazzo Butera in callaboration with a video installation by the swiss artist Uriel Orlow; Jelili Atiku and Marinella Senatore both with two different performing projects around the city; the irish artist John Gerrard in Palazzo Ajutamicristo e Palazzo Forcella De Seta; the visual artist Khalil Rabah with his installation at the Orto Botanico; two collectives; Rotor (Piazza Sella) and Cooking Sections; Giorgio Vasta presents a narration of the city using the digital App City Scripts


Manifesta12, Gilles Clément & Coleco, 1st workshop at ZEN. Photo by Cave Studio. Courtesy Manifesta.    

Manifesta12, Casino Palermo #1, Alessandro Calabrese, Barracuda, Installation views 3 ┬® Courtesy of Viasaterna


Moreover, besides the official program there are two further sections: Manifesta 12 Collateral events (featuring over 60 projects) and 5x5x5 (fifteen projects spread across the month duration of the biennale. 

Among the Collateral Events don’t miss the Centro Internazionale di Fotografia directed by famous photographer Letizia Battaglia where you will find the exhibition Incompiuto la nascita di uno stile created by the artist collective Alterazioni Video (over 750 incomplete constructions destined to ruin become tools to understand the recent history of italian territory). If you are looking for an alternative way to experience the biennale you can try the unconventional path in Palermo created by two Sicilian friends, Santo Graziano and Peppino Re La città negata (blind walk). If you are in Palermo in the opening days and you want to relax, go and find the Circus curated by Marcello Malomberti, while, if you prefer something between istitutional and recent research, go to see  Palazzo Oneto with the Caiba garden project 2007/2018 by Michele Guido, or the special project Casino Palermo curated by the gallery Viasaterna in via Alloro, 129.  


For more shows to see throughout the Manifesta 12 check the official website but remember... there is nothing better than getting lost!


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