Manifesta 9, The European Biennial of Contemporary Art in Genk, Belgium

Since its first edition 15 years ago, Manifesta has been concerned with the idea of breaking down barriers, crossing borders and building bridges. Incorporating exhibitions, performances, multi-media experiments and broadcasts, Manifesta 9 highlights the very best of creative thought, research and experimentation, involving individual artists and artistic communities from diverse backgrounds from all around the world. Manifesta is the only nomadic contemporary art biennial, changing its location every two years in response to a variety of social, political and geographic considerations. Hopping from Rotterdam to Luxembourg to Frankfurt in previous years, this year’s Biennial will be held in Genk, making Manifesta a truly pan-European event.

Built around the curatorial concept “The Deep of the Modern”, Manifesta 9 intends to create a complex dialogue between different layers of art and history. Its point of departure is the significance of the former coal mining region of Belgian Campine as a locus of industrial capitalism’s ecology. The remains of the Waterschei Mine in Genk, Limburg, which make up the main venue of the Biennial, are not the only protagonists in this story. The Deep of the Modern was perhaps most inspired by the overall geographical-ecological “mining machine” that transformed the region over the course of the 20th century, giving rise to a complex landscape of garden cities, landscape planning, canals, roads and railroads.

The Deep of the Modern will develop as a dialogue between three different sections: The Poetics of Restructuring, The Age of Coal and 17 Tons. Although the exhibition is divided into different sections, there are thematic, poetic and methodological affinities that interlace the works of all three of its sections.

Manifesta 9: The European Biennial of Contemporary Art, 02-06-2012 until 30-09-2012, Genk, Limburg, Belgium.

1. Edward Burtynsky China, Manufacturing (2005). Copyright the artist. Supported by Galeria Toni Tàpies, Barcelona. Courtesy: Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto, Stefan Röpke Gallery, Köln.
2. Courtesy the artist
3. Courtesy the artist
4. Vanden Eynde, Maarten, Plastic Reef (2008-2012). Copyright: the artist. Supported by: the Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam, the Vlaamse Gemeenschap, Manifesta 9, Genk. Photography: Kristof Vrancken
5. Ni Haifeng, Para-production (2008-2012). Copyright: the artist. Supported by: The Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam. Acknowledgment: Guo Ru. Photography: Kristof Vrancken.