Sunday Mail (28.05.2006)
Manifesta curators set to resign
By Agnieszka Rakoczy

EFFORTS to bridge differences between the Manifesta 6 curatorial team and the non-profit local organisation Nicosia for Art created by Nicosia Municipality to oversee the project ended in fiasco on Friday, when neither side agreed on any of the issues under discussion.

“Unfortunately, the final moderation meeting didn’t bring any solutions,” one of the curators, Russian-born artist based in New York Anton Vidokle told the Sunday Mail yesterday. “We have disagreed on every single issue.”

Among the points discussed for over four hours were: the location of the art school that Manifesta 6 planned to open in Nicosia; lack of information about the state of the biennale’s budget; lack of set rules regarding expenditure and cash-flow in the project; lack of contracts for artists invited to participate in the project; lack of a work permit for one of the curators, and a disagreement over employment of
curatorial assistants.

“We haven’t officially resigned yet but are preparing to do so in the nearest future,” said Florian Waldvogel of the curatorial team. “Our colleague Mai Abu ElDahab has already left the island and we will follow her shortly. Of course, the door is not closed 100 per cent yet. If the Cypriot authorities come with a good solution within the next few days, tell us we can do the school on both sides of the Green Line and organise other things in a more comprehensive manner, we are still ready to work with them. But the clock is ticking.”

Both Wadvogel and Vidokle stressed yesterday that as far as the curatorial team was concerned Friday’s meeting was final, as provided in their contract, and from now on negotiations should take place between the municipality and the International Foundation Manifesta (IFM), based in Amsterdam. This may already be the case as IFM director Hedwig Fijen arrived to Nicosia yesterday on a short visit.

“If a disagreement exists between the curators and the host (Nicosia) then the procedure of mediation provided by the contract will be followed,” commented Yiannis Toumazis, the project’s general co-ordinator and member of the Nicosia for Art team.

The European Biennale of Contemporary Art Manifesta 6, an event that moves from one city to another, is to take place in Cyprus between September 17 and December 23. Its locations are always places with special meaning and interest in socio-political terms. During the selection procedure for the 2006 edition, Nicosia faced hard competition from Tallinn in Estonia, as well as a joint bid from Dublin and Belfast.
It is said the capital of Cyprus won both because of the fact that it is divided as well as because of its interesting location in the Eastern Mediterranean region, close to the Middle East.

The Manifesta 6 curatorial team came to Nicosia with a proposal to create an international, independent, interdisciplinary art school, based on experience of the famous American Black Mountain College. It was hoped that the school would be an important art establishment for the entire region, and if things go smoothly during this ‘pilot’ project, after the initial 100 days it would remain open. The curators
planned that the school would take place on both sides of the Green Line. It received about 750 applications and participants have been already selected. Several introductory events leading to the opening of the school have already taken place both in the south and north.

The budget of this year’s event is supposed to reach 1.8 million euros in total, out of which one million euros has been secured from the Cypriot Ministry of Education and Culture, the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (through the Cyprus Tourism Organisation), and the Nicosia Municipality.