Europe’s Roving Manifesta Biennial Will Open in Barcelona and 10 More Cities in Spain’s Restive Catalonia Region in 2024

The biennial says its ambitious aim is to “fight polarization and division.”

Barcelona in the evening. Photo Laura Guerrero, courtesy Manifesta.

Manifesta 15, the 2024 edition of the roving European biennial, will be spread across Barcelona and some 10 Catalonian cities, organizers have revealed.

The exhibition’s leaders said in a statement that their strategy “continues to be focused on how art and culture can fight polarization and division.” Considering the location—a region that has seen the rise of a separatist movement, which has been opposed by the rise of a far-right party on the national stage in recent years—they will have their work cut out for them.

Manifesta is currently in conversation with an unspecified German city where the biennial will take place in 2026, according to the announcement. The 2022 edition will take place in Pristina, Kosovo.

“To create meaningful relations and to understand how to connect to diverse worlds in a relevant way, Manifesta is focusing on reinventing its community-based approaches while building new ways of embedding its practices within the local context,” Manifesta’s director Hedwig Fijen in a statement.

Manifesta was forced to get inventive this year, when its 13th edition in Marseille, co-organized by ICA London director Stefan Kalmár, was delayed from June to August. At the end of October, new public-health restrictions forced it to close prematurely and transition online.

“Manifesta will be a great field for research, experimentation, and action, also tying in the creative network, institutions, and the citizens,” said Barcelona mayor Ada Colau of the upcoming edition.

Manifesta has roamed the continent since the 1990s, when it was founded in the aftermath of the breakdown of the Soviet Union amid efforts to better integrate Europe. The previous edition, in 2018, set up shop in the Sicilian capital of Palermo.

The next edition is installing itself in a restive region: a Catalan separatist movement has simmered for years and boiled over three years ago into an attempt to break away from Spain entirely. National police forces injured hundreds as they deployed rubber bullets and clubs against citizens while seizing ballot boxes and closing polling stations. One of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, Catalonia is home to about 7.5 million.

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