Manifesta 12: The Planetary Garden. Cultivating Coexistence

Palermo, Italy
16 Jun 2018 - 04 Nov 2018

Manifesta 12: The Planetary Garden. Cultivating Coexistence

This year Manifesta 12 travels to the Italian city of Palermo. The latest installment of the world’s only nomadic biennial of contemporary art and culture, is taking place in Palermo from 16 June 2018 until 4 November 2018.

Selected by the Manifesta team, Palermo was chosen for its representation of two important themes that have come to shape contemporary Europe: migration and climate changes, and how these issues impact our cities.

Manifesta 12’s main ambition is to work in a truly interdisciplinary way with local communities in order to rethink the basic architectural, urban, economic, social and cultural structures of the city. The city will play host to a number of exhibitions, performances, multi-media experiments, talks and workshops. There will also be a pre-biennial program which will develop a theoretical framework for the biennial and will set out the parameters of the city’s revitalisation process.

Titled “The Planetary Garden. Cultivating Coexistence”, the concept explores coexistence in a world moved by invisible networks, transnational private interests, algorithmic intelligence and ever – increasing inequalities through the unique lens of Palermo – a crossroads of three continents in the heart of the Mediterranean. Closely collaborating with Palermitan partners, Manifesta 12 will co-inhabit Palermo as a laboratory to investigate the challenges of  our  time  and  look for traces of possible  futures.

Throughout history, the city of Palermo has been a laboratory for diversity and crosspollination. Continuous migration – from the Ancient Greeks, the Arabs and the Normans to the recent arrival from Northern Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East – has constantly redefined the city and its people. Palermo’s streets, architecture, parks, cultural legacy and personal histories are the result of a long-lasting syncretism of cultures across the Mediterranean and beyond.

In the 1875 painting View of Palermo by Francesco Lojacono – in the collection of the GAM Museum in Palermo – nothing is indigenous. Olive trees came from Asia, aspen from the Middle East, eucalyptus from Australia, prickly pear from Mexico, loquat from Japan. Citrus trees – a symbol of Sicily – were introduced under Arab sovereignty. The botanical garden of Palermo, Orto Botanico, was founded in 1789 as a laboratory to nurture, study, test, mix and gather diverse species. Palermo’s Orto Botanico inspired Manifesta 12 to look at the idea of the “garden”, exploring its capacity to aggregate difference and to compose life out of movement and migration.

Palermo’s position at the crossroads of three continents makes it an ideal location for Manifesta 12 to investigate some of the key changes of our time. But it is also a place where the current model of globalisation is contested with new perspectives on civic engagement.

Collaborating closely with Palermitan partners, Manifesta 12 will co-inhabit Palermo as a laboratory for the challenges of our time, looking for traces of possible futures. In the context of globalisation, Manifesta 12 chooses to be radically local in engaging with the city in all of its diverse components.

The Planetary Garden will host 4 main sections, each touching on key topics of the concept:

Garden of Flows will explore toxicity, plant life and the culture of gardening in relation to the transnational commons in Orto Botanico.

Out of Control Room will investigate power in today’s regime of global flows. The location of this section will be released in the coming months.

City on Stage will build on existing opportunities in the centre and the outskirts of Palermo to further develop the existing plans that are stuck somehow and have not been fully realised. Productive collaborations can act as a catalyst and possibly extend into future and long-term initiatives in Palermo.

Teatro Garibaldi hosts a library, café and program of public events, including debates, workshops and film screenings (presentation of films shot in Palermo with introduction and/or Q&A).

One of the key characteristics of “The Planetary Garden” concept and Manifesta 12 at large is an interdisciplinary approach. Manifesta 12 is the first edition to include not only traditional art curators, but an interdisciplinary group of specialists in the curatorial team. Bregtje van der Haak is a renowned Dutch journalist and filmmaker; Andrés Jaque is a Spanish architect, founder of the Office for Political Innovation and professor at Columbia University; Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli is a Sicilian-born architect and partner at OMA/AMO, and Mirjam Varadinis is a Swiss contemporary art curator at Kunsthaus Zurich. This curatorial model was necessary to understand how to decode Palermo in all its complexities and amplify the already existing energy of the city in experimental ways. Each of the Manifesta 12 Creative Mediators have used their respective expertise and background to contribute to the biennial programme. This will be evident through the diversity of projects in Manifesta 12 that will extend beyond contemporary art into architecture, public space, science, geography, agronomy, literature, food, cinema, anthropology, social design, storytelling and more. Further details on the Manifesta 12 participants and projects will be unveiled as the biennial approaches its opening.