the european biennial of contemporary art
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The exhibition (and beyond) project developed by Adam Budak’s Manifesta 7 curatorial unit (Nina Möntmann, Tobi Maier, Krist Gruijthuijsen, Office for Cognitive Urbanism – Christian Teckert and Andreas Spiegl) is focused on mapping and analysing the (cultural and political) ecology of space and its public-ness. As such it aims at elaborating provisional (exhibition) strategies and critical (discursive) services that would be leading towards ANOTHER (gentle manifesto for) public space.
The notion of “critical regionalism” (as introduced by architectural theorist, Kenneth Frampton) functions as a blackboard where the reconsideration of the vernacular takes place and a renewed vocabulary of trans-locality is articulated. Such idea which identifies a public space as an area of multiple values exchange focuses on investigating (public) discourse’s “proper” place, between a plurality of definitions and precarious temporariness of public matters. A variety of qualities and economies will be at stake: from the “proper” space (property) via “legal” space (ownership and legality) down to autonomous space (emancipation) towards the precise mapping of the “peculiarities of a particular place”.
Critical regionalism – “a local life aware of itself” – serves as a means to resolve tensions between globalization and localism, modernity and tradition, and as such it marks a form of resistance – a decisive reaction to normative, universal standards, practices, forms as well as technological and economic conditions. It raises a variety of urgent questions concerned with historicism, national romanticism, authenticity and the nation-state and it further opens up a field to deconstruct the modes of (spatial/national/singular) belonging and identification by employing defamiliarization: interested in specific elements from the region, those that act as generators of contact and community, and are place-defining constructs, critical regionalism incorporates them “strangely” rather than familiarly thus disrupting the sentimental “embracing” between buildings and their inhabitants and triggering the conscience. According to Frampton, thinking in terms of regions – active agents of resistance – brings the tactile immediacy of spatial experience, the necessary response to climate and topography, a sense of reality to the cultural meaning of architectural form, and the possibility of engaging local labour and skill in architectural production. The northern Italian region of Trentino Alto Adige (as a host of Manifesta 7) and especially Rovereto (as the smallest town in the biography of Manifesta so far) and its post-industrial sites (Ex-Peterlini and Tobacco Factory as the exhibition’s venues) are case studies in the process of defining anew the conditions of the vernacular in the social and cultural environment of seemingly blurred divisions between the public and the private, precariously oscillating between the not-yet-constituted, autonomous (post)political and a beyond-state emancipated micro-structure of communal identity-in-process.
Furthermore, the exhibition considers space’s ethnology as a methodological reference in focusing on “minor” local, the concrete, small and seemingly insignificant and marginal within a ruined landscape of delayed processes of restructurisation and post-industrial transformation. Ernst Bloch’s philosophy of the vernacular and especially his elaboration of Kleinstadt complement the mapping of cross-regional matrix of identity politics. Here, the Kleinstadt appears as a Model, a Figure, a Primary Structure – a space for the ambiguities and dialogical forms of communication that are associated with the modern culture; and the vernacular is defined as a particular state of mind, a “difference of place”. In Bloch’s philosophy, the small town is an active area, far from nostalgic longing and a trauma of abandonment, a dynamic place where modernity encounters its own contradictions and elaborates its complex grammar of physical and mental belonging. Bloch advocates an open concept of reality where (not-yet)Being is concerned as Possibility and Hope is Being’s principle, a human driving force leading towards a better future and improvement. Hope is a reverie, but also docta spes, a (sustainable) desire or/and desire of sustainability. The project aims at navigating through the dilemmas of the principle that shapes and determines our life in a permanent passage between a (concrete) utopia and a promise of a real encounter. How to register the “not-yet” of Being’s (social and political) development, how to spot a trace of hope in the noise of an aggressive rhetoric of (already) corrupted future? Hope is a mental outline of an (optimistic) projection towards the not-yet-defined (or rather -conscious) temporal and spatial parameters, a movement towards the undisclosed and unknown: “an imagined space of emergence”, an agent of the vernacular. As such, hope is a hybrid concept, a mediator between the praxis and theory and the operator of the (anticipatory) identity.
One of the important chapters of the entire project will concentrate on the confluences and contradictions of the “post-political” within the public space and its communal and would-be democratic scaffolding. Facing the growing impossibility of a social autonomy on the one hand and an emancipatory drive on the other, the public space undergoes a troublesome process of identity disorder: as a “powerless structure” of denied access and a (still seductive and fertile) field of activism and radical imagination. Over-semanticised, it appears as an overrated gesture and a site of collapse yet still it appeals as an area of potentiality and (unconditioned) commitment: such is the public space as a field of power, in a permanent friction between the right, potency and its latent frailty. The project offers a journey towards methodologies of resistance in negotiating public space’s legitimacy by jamming imaginative topographies of Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Circular Ruins” (an amalgam of appearance, dreaming and utopian desires) with Jacques Ranciere’s “active parliament” (a search for a telos of community on the crossway of the end of the politics, or/and the realist utopia).
Adam Budak
Alterazioni Video, Michelangelo Antonioni, Knut Åsdam, Bernadette Corporation, Margrét H. Blöndal, Michal Budny, BURGHARD, Nina Canell, Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson, Claire Fontaine, Oskar Dawicki, Evelina Deicmane, Rä di Martino, Miklós Erhardt and Little Warsaw, Igor Eskinja, Tim Etchells, fabrics interseason, Famed, Didier Fiuza Faustino, João Maria Gusmão + Pedro Paiva, Heide Hinrichs, Heidrun Holzfeind, Runa Islam, Ricardo Jacinto, Ragnar Kjartansson, Barbora Klímová, Daniel Knorr, Adam Leech, Deborah Ligorio, Miks Mitrevics, Christian Philipp Müller, Ewa Partum, Gianni Pettena, Riccardo Previdi, Philippe Rahm, Pamela Rosenkranz, Janek Simon, Luca Trevisani, Tatiana Trouvé, Uqbar Foundation, Guido van der Werve, Nico Vascellari, Danh Vo, Johannes Vogl, Stephen Willats, ZimmerFrei
AUDITORY EPODE curated by Tobi Maier
Florian Hecker
Anna Ostoya
the next ENTERprise
Chris Watson
Zafos Xagoraris
manifeSTATION curated by the Office for Cognitive Urbanism (Andreas Spiegl, Christian Teckert)
Azra Aksamija
Andreas Duscha
Sonia Leimer
Christian Mayer
Kamen Stoyanov
Adrien Tirtiaux
Anna Witt
MATTER OF FACT curated by Krist Gruijthuijsen
Jeremiah Day
Renzo Martens
Olaf Nicolai
Adam Pendleton
Falke Pisano/ Will Holder
Ricardo Valentim
SOCIAL ART PRAXIS curated by Cornelia Lauf (IUAV, Venice)
co-edited by Adam Budak and Nina Möntmann, with essays by T.J. Demos, Simon Critchley, Bernd Hüppauf, Suzana Milevska, Jochen Becker, Erden Kosova, Alan Colquhoun and Gianni Pettena, conversations between Marco de Michelis and Franco Rella, Mirko Zardini and Gianni Pettena, Nina Möntmann and Ayreen Anastas & Rene Gabri, Judith Butler and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, art contributions by Uqbar Foundation and Christian Philipp Müller, as well as introductions by Nina Möntmann and Adam Budak.
Editorial manager: Dan Kidner