CIMAM –International Committee of ICOM for Museums and Collections of Modern Art
On June 1, the three curators of Manifesta 6 —Mai Abu ElDahab, Anton Vidokle, and Florian Waldvogel— received a letter from the Mayor of Nicosia, Cyprus, informing them about the termination of their contracts to organize Manifesta 6, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, in Nicosia.
After this, the art world received the public statements concerning this from the curators, from the International Foundation Manifesta in Amsterdam, and from Nicosia for Art Ltd., the non-profit organization in charge of Manifesta 6. Both groups described their respective understanding of the situation that ultimately led to the cancellation of the Manifesta 6 project.
It is clear from these announcements that the socio-political and cultural context which the curators of Manifesta 6 attempted to develop their project has always been historically and organisationally complex.
While it is not CIMAM’s remit or intention to assess the relative merits of either organisation’s position, the members of CIMAM nonetheless feel a professional and ethical obligation to support the three curators’ concept for Manifesta 6: a means to develop a dialogue across the cultural and political division within Cyprus on the one hand, and for creating new models of - and roles for - international exhibitions on the other.
The members of CIMAM support the endeavour of presenting international events in specific local situations, which in the first place serve the needs of different communities that aspire to become sovereign partners in the creation of a global consciousness as well as bring about new possibilities for a better exchange of ideas between the local and global spaces.
In this time of the proliferation of biennials across the world, many of them contributing to a homogenization of the form rather than emphasising its potential for diversities, it is profoundly unfortunate that the mission for Manifesta 6 - epitomised by the creative and educative potential of an art school - is now forced to be abandoned.
The members of CIMAM deplore this decision. Although this statement is ex post facto, we nevertheless hope that it will be considered in relation to staging future international art projects.
More specifically, we consider it important that Manifesta should continue to organize future biennials, within a framework of political sensitivity alongside curatorial and artistic freedom of thought and activity. Since its founding in 1996 as an independent biennial for young artists, Manifesta has come to be regarded as an important crucible for the development of art and culture in Europe. CIMAM would like to express its support and sympathy for its international foundation.
CIMAM –International Committee of ICOM for Museums and Collections of Modern Art– is the only international forum of professional character for the discussion of philosophical, ethical and practical issues concerning the collection and exhibition of twentieth-century art. A non profit organization run by elected volunteers, and composed essentially of the directors and curators of modern and contemporary art institutions, CIMAM has made a positive and important contribution to the art world and grown to be a real platform of international professional exchange.