Manifesta was an initiative led by Hedwig Fijen and Jolie van Leeuwen, aiming to create a format for a travelling art manifestation based in different cities every two years. Manifesta 1 was held in 16 art institutions and 36 public spaces in Rotterdam – including Villa Alckmaer – the predecessor of TENT – , Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art and V2_. It was one of the first international biennales to advocate cooperation with local institutions and artists on such a large scale. Another remarkable part of Manifesta 1 was the selection of not one, but five curators: Katalyn Neray (Hungary), Rosa Martinez (Spain), Viktor Misiano (Russia), Andrew Renton (United Kingdom), and Hans-Ulrich Obrist (Switzerland).

Contemporary Europe
The first edition of Manifesta focused on subjects related to contemporary Europe, such as migration, translation and communication, community and politics. All the works displayed at Manifesta 1 were specially made for this edition and many of the participating artists, now world-renown, where exhibiting outside their own countries for the first time in their career.

In this archival presentation next to the contributions done by artists such as Maria Eichhorn, Roman Ondák, Ayse Erkmen, Vadim Fishkin, IRWIN, and Huang Yong Ping, special attention was given to the work of Russian artist Oleg Kulik and NEsTWORK, a Rotterdam based artist initiative.

Oleg Kulik
During Manifesta 1, Oleg Kulik performed ‘Pavlov’s Dog’ – now known as a key piece in his oeuvre. For weeks Kulik took on the identity of a dog, living 24 hours a day at V2_ Institute for the Unstable Media while taking intelligence and physical tests in a ‘laboratory’.

NEsTWORK was an initiative by artist Jeanne van Heeswijk, set to give Manifesta roots in the local art community. In addition to Van Heeswijk, this diverse group of Rotterdam based artists consisted of Rotterdam-based artists Karin van Arink, Wapke Feenstra, Edwin Janssen, Menna Laura Meijer, Kamiel Verschuren and Ruud Welten. Together, they created eighty-seven daily programs with activities, performances, concerts, films, lectures and debates at several locations in the city.

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Rotterdam Cultural Histories
In Shared Space, our shared exhibition space on the second floor, TENT and Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art alternatingly create presentations on subjects from the history of art and culture in Rotterdam. This collaborative series was conceived by Defne Ayas (Witte de With) and Mariette Dölle (TENT) in 2014 to explore the common roots of both institutions in Rotterdam.