November 12, 2011 - Manifesta - Manifesta 9 Coffee Break “The Contemporary at the Service of the Past”
November 12, 2011

Manifesta 9 Coffee Break “The Contemporary at the Service of the Past”

Manifesta 9 Coffee Break
"The Contemporary at the Service of the Past"

Casino Modern
André Dumontlaan 2
3600 Genk

Towards Manifesta 9 (Summer 2012 in Genk, Province of Limburg, Belgium):

Since 2002, the Manifesta Foundation, initiator and co-organiser of the Manifesta Biennial, has produced a series of encounters between specialists from various fields and the members of the Manifesta Network, to discuss the evolving practices of Manifesta and the broader art field, and its relevance in the current political, social and artistic climate. Manifesta Coffee Break 2011 is organised by the Manifesta Foundation in Amsterdam in collaboration with Manifesta 9 in Genk, Limburg, Belgium.

On December 9 and 10, artists, curators, theoreticians and members of the public will gather at the Casino Modern in Genk, as part of this Manifesta initiative, to discuss the statement and title of the Coffee Break: “The Contemporary at the Service of the Past”. The intent is then to apply their findings to the preparatory process of the forthcoming ninth edition of Manifesta, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art.

The Manifesta 9 Coffee Break will be moderated by the Manifesta 9 Curatorial Team:

Cuauhtémoc Medina, Mexico City
Katerina Gregos, Brussels
Dawn Ades, London

Invited speakers are:

Johan de Boose – Doctor in Slavic Studies, author
Phil Collins – Berlin-based British artist
Ekaterina Degot – independent art historian, art critic, and curator from Kiev
Jeremy Deller – UK-based artist
Eva Gronbach – German fashion designer, based in Cologne
Ibro Hasanovic – Rouen (FR) based Bosnian artist
Vincent Meessen – Brussels-based artist
Victor Misiano – curator of Manifesta 1, Chairman of the Manifesta Foundation, Moscow based
Yan Tomaszewski – Paris-based Polish artist

Manifesta 9 will take place from June 2 to September 30, 2012 at the restored Waterschei mine complex in Genk, curated by the Mexican curator Cuauhtémoc Medina and his associate curators Brussels-based Katerina Gregos, and London-based Dawn Ades.

As well as functioning as an active tool to discuss the concept of Manifesta 9 and current art practices, the Manifesta 9 Coffee Break will also provide an opportunity to look behind the scenes of the preparations for the Manifesta biennial and the accompanying curatorial processes. The Coffee Break involves a meeting between artists, curators and theoreticians like Phil Collins, Jeremy Deller and Victor Misiano who, over two days, will together explore significant questions raised during the curatorial process of Manifesta 9, through presentations of art works, lectures and round table discussions.

“The Contemporary at the Service of the Past” sets out to tackle historical subjects and investigations, the activation of memory and outmoded signifiers or forms of thinking, the exploration of the genealogy of our different cultures and the origins of several modalities of power, and a diverse exploration of the ways groups and individuals address their past. These are issues preoccupying many artists today. Aspects of contemporary art are constantly devoted to the past—curatorial and critical thinking tends to mirror such a condition.

The recent upsurge of historical interest in artistic practice, also visible in the more general fields of the film industry, the novel and tourism, might more be a result of instability in our theoretical and practical interactions with history, rather than a sign of history’s good health. There are various indications of this. The frequent neurotic oscillation between nostalgia and escapism from the past, the way antiquated fantasy worlds proliferate while political thinking finds it significantly more difficult to mobilise genealogies and arguments about social processes, and the fragmentation of historical thinking, all seem to suggest that those previous ideologies directly relating the past to a present-day usage, are no longer applicable. Might it be that the cultural obsession with the past is now disjointed from any true understanding of its agency and use? The mirroring of works of contemporary art which are wholly based on historical research signals a crisis in historical thinking: an anxious need to put “the contemporary at the service of the past”.

General information:
All presentations are in English.

Friday December 9, 2011 from 2 to 7 p.m. and Saturday December 10, 2011 from 10 to 6 p.m.
For the program please visit: or

Casino Modern, André Dumontlaan 2, 3600 Genk, Belgium

Free Admission, RSVP is required:
Registration form on or
Deadline for registration: Sunday November 27, 2011

For further information:
Manifesta Foundation
Diana Hillesheim, Liaison Officer
Prinsengracht 175 hs
NL – 1015 DS Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31 20 672 1435

For press information:
Manifesta 9
Kathrin Luz, Head of Communication
Dennenstraat 5
3600 Genk
Tel.: +32 89 710 440

Manifesta 9 Coffee Break
Share - Manifesta 9 Coffee Break “The Contemporary at the Service of the Past”
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York