Local histories, colonialism and climate injustices, at Manifesta 15

The event, from 8 September to 24 November, aims to make citizens more proactive in achieving a socio-ecological transition in Catalonia.

04/04/2024 - 13:03 h - Culture and leisure Ajuntament de Barcelona

Manifesta, the European Nomadic Biennial, will arrive in Barcelona and its metropolitan area between the beginning of September and the end of November in the fifteenth edition of a programme that seeks to stimulate citizens to commit themselves to a balanced socio-ecological transition in Catalonia (in the picture, a view of the Besòs river in Santa Coloma de Gramenet. Photo: Manifesta 15 / Eva Carasol).

At this meeting, leading figures in their respective fields propose innovative approaches to debate the urgent problems of our environment through culture. With a regionalised approach, Manifesta operates in a decentralised way, both geographically and in terms of commissioning methodology.
You will see Manifesta 15 projects and cultural interventions in a dozen Catalan cities and with the participation of artistic representatives from the metropolitan region who will talk to you about the history of the territory you are walking through, but also about colonialism and situations of climate injustice.

Ecology and social history are some of the themes that most influence the guests of Manifesta 15, which invites participants to work on a specific theme within the conceptual framework of the biennial and has encouraged them to delve into local archives, oral tradition and private and public genealogies in search of the relationship between local histories, colonialism and climate injustices. 

In addition to the exhibitions that will be open throughout the biennial, each week the focus of the programme will move to one of the twelve cities where an artistic representative has worked on the programme.

For 78 days, Manifesta 15 will develop activities spread over three thematic clusters, all located in the metropolitan region: the Besòs, the Llobregat delta, the Collserola mountain range and the Vallès area. These are some of the areas in which, in the immediate future, there will be major urban transformations. In addition to the debates and discussions, local and international artists will sign during Manifesta 15 projects in different scenes of the metropolitan cities involved, always around the central themes of the biennial: balancing conflicts, healing and caring and imagining futures.

The artistic team of the biennial is made up of the director and founder of the Manifesta International Foundation and Manifesta 15 Barcelona, Hedwig Fijen; the creative mediator Filipa Oliveira and the artistic representatives designated by the municipalities participating in the biennial: Badalona, Barcelona, Cornellà de Llobregat, el Prat del Llobregat, l’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Granollers, Mataró, Sabadell, Sant Adrià de Besòs, Sant Cugat del Vallès, Santa Coloma de Gramenet i Terrassa.

While Manifesta 15 lasts, a series of selected projects will be developed in an open call. 

The selected projects deal with the central issues of the biennial, from different disciplines such as art, ecology, sustainability, urban planning and architecture. Among the participating artists are Claudia Pagès, Jokkoo Collective, La Casa dels Futurs, Matias Daporta, Metrópolis, Nora Ancarola, Rosa Tharrats & Gabriel Ventura, Tornen les Esquelles, Transductores, Lola Lasurt and Domènec, as well as artists from all over the world, including the international collective Radio Slumbers, the Angolan performance artist Kiluanji Kia Henda, the Dutch collective Embassy of the North Sea and the British installation artist Mike Nelson.

The activities related to each of the three main axes of Manifesta 15 will be distributed, according to the theme, in the various selected clusters, which include sites ranging from Can Trinxet in l’Hospitalet to Casa Gomis in Prat del Llobregat, passing through the Monastery of Sant Cugat del Vallès, the Tres Xemeneies in Barcelona’s Paral-lel, the Roca Umbert Factory in Granollers and the building of the Gustavo Gili publishing house, which will be the centre of operations for Manifesta 15 and will also host an Archive Presentation.

This presentation will showcase the work carried out by Manifesta to delve deeper into the region’s historical memories, genealogies, stories and shared educational practices. The result of this work challenges the dominant narratives and uncovers new perspectives that help us to better understand the space in which we live. Thus, this year Manifesta brings together archaeological specialists who, in this edition, challenge the official narratives and propose a plurality of possible interpretations of the past. Among the guests are Germán Labrador, Spanish author and Princeton professor, who will talk about the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s domination of cultural and social development, and Tania Safura, researcher, commissioner and founder of Radio Africa, who will talk about “black archives” and propose an “anti-colonial library” that shows the history of the metropolis from a black perspective. 

Finally, under the title Fora per fer escola, Manifesta 15 proposes its Education and Mediation programme. The research focuses on Catalan progressive educational movements before and after the Franco dictatorship. An Open Forum, dedicated to studying best practices for a decentralised cultural ecosystem and created from the ground up, will close the biennial in November 2024. 

Tickets to participate in the activities (€15) will be on sale from May. Meanwhile, you can find all the information about the next edition of Manifesta 15 on its website.

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