One of the most distinctive features of Manifesta is its process of conceptualisation and content definition, which can take up to two years before the inauguration of the biennial. While most art biennials entrust conceptualisation to a curator, Manifesta does not appoint a curator to define content, instead taking a conceptual framework developed in conjunction with the city and its stakeholders as a starting point. The process of content design, research and work procedures will be coordinated by the Board of Trustees of the Manifesta 15 Barcelona Foundation and the foundation's coordination team.

The European nomadic biennial works in a cross-disciplinary way, taking into account the contributions that the host cities can make to international cultural debate.

Another difference is that the exhibitions on the Manifesta programme are not necessarily held in museums or art centres, with local institutions being invited to have a say and to participate in the content design and planning processes of the event, and to collaborate through their public programmes.

Moreover, Manifesta works with the local context and influences conceptualisation processes, and also works on the legacy that the event will leave in the host territories, promoting cooperation between the cities that have hosted the different editions.

From the moment Barcelona was chosen to be the next host city until the inauguration of Manifesta 15, the Barcelona Institute of Culture and the ten cities within the Metropolitan Area will work together with the foundation's Board of Trustees on collective processes to develop the content and plans for the biennial.

Expectation workshops

Expectation workshops are being held to define the conceptual framework or first brief for Manifesta 15. The aim here is for all Manifesta’s stakeholders to be a part of the conceptualisation process, and be able to make their own complementary contributions to the plans for the Manifesta 15 project. The expectation workshops are working sessions where interviews are held with different groups to identify the issues that are of concern to them at a sectoral level, and the main topics or areas that they think should be addressed at Manifesta 15. The plan is to hold such sessions with organisations representing the cultural sector, groups and associations within the cultural sector in Barcelona and its metropolitan area, and finally with opinion leaders in the fields of culture, education, urban planning and community action.

Conceptual framework or brief

Once the central themes have been identified, the Manifesta team will prepare a first draft of the conceptual framework or brief. This document will set out the objectives in terms of art practice, and will serve as the basis for the selection of a creative mediator for this first stage. The role of the creative mediator is not as a curator, but rather as the coordinator of a collective process, someone who can liaise with the foundation and at the same time have a global vision of the project and define its contents.

Subsequently, a second phase of the research will be carried out to define a specific framework for activities in the city and its metropolitan area based on the development of the projects selected and worked on by artists and communities. At this stage, the Manifesta team and the creative mediator will finalise the Manifesta 2015 conceptual framework, which will also inform the selection of the second creative mediator or possibly mediators (more than one person could be chosen).

Definition of artistic and creative commissions

Once the conceptual framework has been finalised and the final artistic and creative commissions have been defined, together with the places where the projects will be located, the commissions will be developed, research projects will be launched, and the team will be completed. To kick things off, in late 2023 or early 2024 there will be a big public presentation in the press and within the sector, taking in exhibition spaces, the projects and artists selected, the parallel programme and other activities.

Manifesta 15 in Barcelona

In the summer of 2024 the final three-month programme will be held in Barcelona and the ten cities of the metropolitan area. There will be 100 days of exhibitions, performances, cultural events, lectures, workshops and public programmes, all the result of the process of mediation, research and dialogue that began in 2022.

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