Manifesta 12 in Palermo Enlists Rem Koolhaas’s OMA as Urban Analysts

The nomadic biennial alights in Palermo, a city shaped by migration.

Manifesta, the roving European Biennial of Contemporary Art, and the city of Palermo have selected the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) to act as Creative Mediator for its 12th edition in Palermo, Italy in 2018.

Leoluca Orlando, Mayor of the City of Palermo, Hedwig Fijen, Director of Manifesta, and Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli, partner at OMA, have announced the partnership today in a press release. OMA has been enlisted by Fijen to convey, with creative means, the complex architectural and urban structure of the city of Palermo.

Although no details have yet been released regarding the next biennial’s artistic direction, this appointment reveals a re-thinking of its current structure. “For this next edition, I felt the need to change the curatorial model,” Fijen said in the statement. “Therefore, having worked with a single artist as curator for Manifesta 11 Zurich, the Palermo edition will also feature an interdisciplinary sustainable project. The focus is on how Manifesta 12 can help to develop new rules or instruments for local communities to reclaim their city,” she explained.

OMA, an architecture office and research center, will put together an interdisciplinary team to investigate how contemporary cities are affected by tourism, gentrification, migration, and climate change. The team of specialists will help to translate the biennial’s artistic vision into an accessible program, taking place in various locations in Palermo.

Traces of its dense, multi-cultural history are written into the city’s structure: it was occupied by numerous European civilizations and has been deeply connected to North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean for the past 2000 years. OMA’s Laparelli commented, “In the current political climate, Palermo’s history and character make it the ideal laboratory to re-imagine, from a Mediterranean perspective, the liberal values we share, and to address crucial issues for the present and future of the European city.”

Palermo’s mayor, Orlando, reiterated the significance of looking at a shared history of migration, especially amid current affairs. “After being listed as a Unesco World Heritage site with its Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalù and Monreale, Palermo has confirmed its nomadic and migrant vocation. As a nomadic and migrant-focused city, we consider Manifesta as one of the main international events for contemporary culture and the arts.”

The curatorial concept for Manifesta 12 and the team of organizers will be announced in early 2017.

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