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Manifesta Plays Down Rights Concerns

The European super-biennial scheduled for a June start at the Hermitage gives critics short shrift.

Published: March 27, 2014 (Issue # 1803)



  • Petersburg art collective Chto Delat has pulled out of Manifesta 10 over the corporate policies of the organizers.
    Photo: chto delat

Manifesta, a roving biennial of contemporary art whose tenth iteration is schedule to be held at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg between June 28 and Oct. 31, has come in for criticism for declining to take Russias involvement in the Ukrainian crisis and its annexation of Crimea into account.

The event, which is scheduled as part of the Hermitages 250th anniversary exhibitions and festivities, has been lavishly co-funded by the city in addition to receiving funding from the European Union, the Netherlands Ministry of Education, Culture and Science, the Netherlands Foundation for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture and the Mondriaan Foundation.

Already coming under fire over Russias adoption of anti-gay propaganda legislation, a Ukrainian artist has now urged international artists to boycott Manifesta over Russias annexation of Crimea, while a group of Western European artists has launched a petition demanding the biennial be suspended. A local art collective has also withdrawn from the event to hold its own pro-Ukrainian art festival.

Meanwhile, City Hall plans to use Manifesta to improve the international image of both St. Petersburg and Russia.

Manifesta 10 is one of the main events of the Year of Culture in Russia, Deputy Governor Vasily Kichedzhi was quoted as saying on City Halls website on Feb. 12. Taking into account the international reputation of Manifesta and the interest in the event from both professionals and the general public, we believe that successful implementation of the project will contribute to strengthening the positive image not only of St. Petersburg, but of Russia as a whole.

Although Manifesta has claimed that the Hermitage and City Hall acknowledge its artistic autonomy, doubts have been expressed over how free the organizers are to mount the exhibition of their choosing in a country where a number of media outlets have been stifled and closed for criticism of the authorities.

On March 3, Germany-based Ukrainian artist Yuri Leiderman released a statement asking the international art community to boycott the biennial in support of the people of Ukraine.

Leiderman, one of the Moscow Conceptualists of the 1970s and 1980s was born in Odessa, Ukraine and resides in Berlin, Germany. He took part in the first Manifesta, which was held in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 1996.

Dear friends! I appeal to you as an artist, a participant of first Manifesta European Biennial of Contemporary Art (1996, Rotterdam) and as a native of Ukraine, he wrote in a statement published on the Art Ukraine website.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 31


Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.



Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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