Special: Manifesta

Manifesta: What people do for money

Discussion with the Director of Manifesta: Hedwig Fijen.

At this special Science Trail, Manifesta's founding director Hedwig Fijen gave participants insight into how the nomadic biennial seeks to penetrate deep into local layers of society and how Manifesta uses its biennial programs to build networks, create sustainable audiences, and facilitate collaborations between diverse communities. In doing so, Hedwig Fijen has highlighted how Manifesta sets its own rules by not only selecting cities and regions characterized by specific political and social tensions, but also by using these urban models as pars pro toto of all European histories. It has shown how Manifesta initiates specific processes of reflection to discuss the issues of today and tomorrow, demonstrating that even local issues are usually caused by geopolitical developments such as global climate change.



Manifesta, the traveling European biennial for contemporary art, changes its location every two years. Between June and September 2016, the Manifesta Biennale took place in Zurich.

Manifesta is a special kind of biennial that acts as a potential platform for social change: it is designed to explore and reflect on new developments in contemporary art in a European context. Its themes thus directly reflect the changing economic, social and cultural landscape of Europe in an artistic visual language. Based on the fact that the history of Europe is marked by continuous developments of identities and urban conditions, Manifesta explores the regional cultural characteristics of its host cities. This was also the case for Manifesta in Zurich, where artist Christian Jankowsky explored the social, economic and geopolitical status of Switzerland in relation to labor in order to depict serious changes in the post-fordist era.