What is Manifesta?

Manifesta was conceived in the early 1990s as a nomadic, European biennial of contemporary art, responding to the new social, cultural and political reality that emerged in the aftermath of the Cold War. Following a desire to explore the psychological and geographical territory of Europe and to provide a dynamic platform for cultural exchange throughout the region, it takes place every two years in a different European city. Along with the Venice Biennale and documenta in Kassel, Manifesta is one of the foremost art events in Europe.

How are the Host Cities of Manifesta selected? 

Since 1996, Manifesta has taken place in Rotterdam, Luxembourg, Ljubljana, Frankfurt, Donostia/San Sebastián, Trentino‒South Tyrol, Murcia, Genk, St. Petersburg, Zurich, Palermo and most recently Marseille, France.

Manifesta’s Host Cities are selected by the Supervisory Board of Manifesta Foundation after cities submit a bid up to four years in advance of an edition.

Future Manifesta editions will take place in Barcelona in 2024 and the Ruhr Area of Germany in 2026.

How did Manifesta arrive in Prishtina?

Manifesta was invited to the city of Prishtina by the Mayor of Prishtina Shpend Ahmeti and his cabinet. The bid was led by Yll Rugova, the Director of Culture at that time, together with some of the key artistic producers from Prishtina. The Bid of Prishtina focussed on the reclamation of public space and the creation of a new interdisciplinary institution. In the spring of 2019, it was selected as the 14th Host City of Manifesta.

It will be the first time Manifesta will take place in the Western Balkans. The wish to integrate a new interdisciplinary cultural institution was of great interest to Manifesta, aligning directly with Manifesta’s mission to transform from an exhibition producer to an incubator of sustainable long-term programmes in urban development, education, contemporary art and culture.

Manifesta was invited by the City of Prishtina to create an extensive and inclusive sustainable impact with a 100-day programme for the biennial in 2022. Manifesta 14 is also setting up a regional collaborative networking programme with more than 10 partners in the Western Balkan region.

How do I attend Manifesta 14 Prishtina?

We want everyone to take part in Manifesta 14 Prishtina. For this reason, all our events and exhibitions are free. Further, there will be no advance tickets for Manifesta 14 Prishtina. To visit an exhibition, simply turn up at one of our venues during opening hours. Keep an eye on our website over the coming months to hear the latest updates about our programme and mediator tours!

What is the funding model of Manifesta and specifically for Manifesta 14 Prishtina?

Each Manifesta, including M14 Prishtina’s Bid, comes with a financial picture and a confirmation of a basic secured budget which is developed by the Mayor of Prishtina, Shpend Ahmeti on behalf of the Municipality of Prishtina in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. On top of this primary budget, each new edition raises an additional 30% via the Manifesta Foundation from international sponsors, NGOs and external partners.

The Manifesta Foundation has secured a large EU grant, as well as various funds from the Netherlands with a total of more than 1.5 million euros.

Previous edition’s budgets of Manifesta biennials have ranged between six and eight million euros.

What has been the impact of Manifesta? 

Each Manifesta edition commissions an independent study to measure the qualitative impact of Manifesta through testimonies of participants, stakeholders and public and the quantitative impact through the gathering of (financial) data.

For example, the City of Zürich allocated a budget of 5.2 million euros to the biennial. The overall gross direct economic impact was 21.2 million euros, which gives a so-called ‘return on investment’ for the City of Zurich of four. From Manifesta 12 Palermo, we learned that 61.6% of visitors were non-local and 42.4% travelled to Palermo specially to see Manifesta. The total gross direct economic impact of non-resident visitors was 11 million euros.

What is the role of the Host City of Prishtina within Manifesta 14?

The City of Prishtina is called the Host of Manifesta, since it is the Municipality of Prishtina who submitted a bid to invite Manifesta to take place in the city. Together with the Manifesta Foundation, the Municipality is the initiating partner of the biennial project Manifesta 14 Prishtina. The Bid to welcome Manifesta focussed on the reclamation of public space and the creation of a new interdisciplinary institution. The following aims have been agreed between Manifesta and the City of Prishtina:

  • To create a 100-day international artistic programme in public and institutional spaces across the City
  • To research the relevance of culture in a changing society
  • To revitalise the post-industrial Brick Factory site
  • To create an independent cultural institution
  • To reclaim public spaces for the citizens of Prishtina

Manifesta 14 Prishtina continues to work closely with the City’s administration on developing the programme and the fundraising and communication strategies.

What is the Role of the Foundation and board of Manifesta 14 Prishtina?

For every edition of Manifesta a new legal entity is created. This is responsible for the conceptualisation and execution of the biennial, its funding and its legacy. The Foundation Manifesta 14 Prishtina was founded by Manifesta Foundation and the Municipality as initiating partners.

As the highest governing body, the Board has final responsibility for the conceptualisation, development and organisation of Manifesta 14 Prishtina. While it is formally responsible for all Manifesta 14 Prishtina business, the Board is not involved in the development of artistic content or the daily running of the organisation. A Scientific Committee and an Honorary Committee will be composed to support and advise Manifesta 14 in Prishtina.

Who is in the Board of the Foundation Manifesta 14 Prishtina and by whom were they appointed?

The Foundation Manifesta 14 Prishtina was founded by Manifesta Foundation and the Municipality as initiating partners. Both initiating partners appoint an equal number of board members. At the moment of writing the Board has seven members. The three board members appointed by the Manifesta Foundation are Manifesta’s founding director Hedwig Fijen, Dutch lawyer Niels de Ru and the former Councillor of Culture of Palermo, Andrea Cusumano.

The three members appointed by the City of Prishtina are the Vice-Chair of the Board and Yll Rugova, Kosovo 2.0 Editor-in-Chief Besa Luci and Vesa Sahatçiu, Cultural Advisor to the Mayor of Prishtina.

How has the Covid-19 pandemic influenced the kick-off process of Manifesta 14 Prishtina? 

International members of the Manifesta team visited Prishtina on several occasions in 2018 and 2019. The director’s final visit to Prishtina was in January 2020 before the world shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The international team of Manifesta Foundation falls under Dutch law and was not able to travel due to the Dutch travel restrictions until May 2021.

In October 2020, Manifesta hired a team of professionals in Prishtina to build the foundation in Kosovo, representing the different cultural sectors. This local team will be expanding in the next months and will be the backbone of Manifesta’s activities in Prishtina. They work under final responsibility of the international team of the Manifesta Foundation.

How will the biennial programme of Manifesta 14 Prishtina start?

Manifesta always starts off its activities by creating an in-depth urban study of the Host City in terms of research and mapping the multi-leveled local issues and structures. To start with in 2020, the Manifesta 14 organisation created an in-depth pre-biennial research process including an Urban Vision and interventions by Carlo Ratti Associati and MIT Senseable City Lab, a series of ten citizen consultation workshops by Studio L A, as well as the mapping out of communities with local stakeholders such as Termokiss and a series of expectation workshops with key members of the cultural and civilian community in Prishtina. This research is done to map social, economic, urban, geographical and cultural identities from different viewpoints, creating a foundational fertile ground for the biennial programme.

Manifesta 14 starts its pre-biennial programme in Summer of 2021 with a collaboration for the Autostrada biennale and will continue a series of collaborations from September 2021 until the opening of the biennial in 2022. The biennial will consist of 100 days of exhibitions, events, workshops and other activities from the 22nd of July until the 30th of October 2022.

In which spaces will Manifesta 14 Prishtina work and who are the main collaborators?

The focus point within the Bid, written by the Municipality of Prishtina, was that Manifesta 14’s programme would reactivate public space within the city and would help the citizens of Prishtina to reclaim this public space.

Through listening to the people of Kosovo and through working with them, Manifesta 14 aims to gain a clear understanding of what is missing within the social cultural infrastructure of Prishtina. Manifesta 14’s objective in this post-Covid period is to create sustainable projects which will reinforce the cultural infrastructure of Pristina.

Manifesta 14 will therefore take place across Kosovo’s capital with a series of Artistic Interventions in iconic venues and public spaces which are key to understanding the historical and cultural narrative of the city. These will be site-specific interventions commissioned to both local and international artists. The list will be announced in the Spring of 2022.

In addition to this, Manifesta 14 sets out to create a Production Hub for local cultural practitioners in the former Hivzi Sulejmani Library. This historical library was allocated to Manifesta 14 by the Municipality and will hopefully become an integrated part of Prishtina’s cultural infrastructure for the years to come, used by local cultural practitioners in close collaboration with international institutions such as the Rijksakademie from the Netherlands.

Prishtina’s most important post-industrial site, named the Brick Factory, will be another venue to be researched and reactivated through artistic and urban interventions which aim to create a long-term revitalisation of the area with international multilateral organisations being present.

Every edition of Manifesta includes the so-called Parallel Events alongside the main programme, for which local and international professionals and organisations are invited to propose projects to feature within the biennial. Every edition creates a new concept for the Parallel Event programme to connect local and international artistic, cultural and professional communities of the Host Cities in a sustainable manner. Next to financial support and inclusion within the programme of the biennial, Parallel Events receive full communication support on digital and analogue channels.

For Manifesta 14, the organisation is reviewing the possibilities to alter the format of these Parallel Events and to integrate them within the main programme, as was the case for Manifesta 13 Marseille. These projects would be a joint venture of an international cultural organisation, together with a local organisation and will be selected via an Open Call which will launch in the Autumn of 2021.

Who is the Creative Mediator for Manifesta 14?

For each biennial programme, Manifesta selects international programmers or curators called Creative Mediators who act as the artistic brains of the biennial programme. For Manifesta 14, a small group of candidates were invited in the summer of 2021 to investigate and research the City of Prishtina and to create a proposal. In October 2021, after approval from both the board and the Manifesta team, Manifesta announced Australian-born, Berlin-based Catherine Nichols as the Creative Mediator for Manifesta 14 Prishtina.

Catherine Nichols is an arts and literary scholar, curator and writer. She has mounted acclaimed exhibitions across Germany and is currently the artistic director of beuys 2021, a year-long centenary programme in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia dedicated to the artist Joseph Beuys.

Nichols will be engrained within the organisational structure of Manifesta 14, collaborating with, and incorporating the work of, the pre-biennial research done by both CRA-Carlo Ratti Associati and Studio L A.