Manifesta Is Still Staying In Russia

by Whitney Kimball on April 30, 2014 Newswire

(Photo: Rustam Zagidullin / MANIFESTA 10) from Artinfo

(Photo: Rustam Zagidullin / MANIFESTA 10) from Artinfo

No surprises there. Reports from a press conference in London this morning confirm that curator Kasper König has remained steadfast in his decision to keep Manifesta in the State Hermitage in Saint Petersburg. He was quoted by Artnet News:

“We operate in the territory of art, which has its own rules. We have to show that there are things that are more important than politics.”

Exactly what those important things are has not been made clear, but when artistic freedom is being defined by Russian Law, it’s certainly not art. To this point, König has promised to promote artistic freedom “within Russian law”, but it sounds as though censorship is underway. According to Artnet, Marlene Dumas’s portraits of “gay” men have been changed to “famous” men.

But even as the call to boycott reaches every sector of cultural producers, only a few artists have vowed to withdraw from Manifesta: Pawel Althamer, Artur Zmievsky, and the collective Chto Delat, who have vowed to create their own solidarity exhibition between Russian and Ukrainian artists. In an email to us last month, Chto Delat’s Dmitry Vilensky questioned the possibility of both playing by Russia’s rules and promoting freedom:

They’ve repeated this mantra from the very beginning. It is laugh[able] for any Russian who knows that here, the law stopped working a long while ago, and now it sounds like a serious misunderstanding; when Russia does not give a shit about international law, and has started the most nasty bullying of all “enemies of the state”, which law is Manifesta [referring] to?

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