Tillmans, Beuys and Nauman lined up for Manifesta

The European biennial announces the list of artists for this year's event at the State Hermitage in St Petersburg
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Francis Alÿs, Draft for Lada project. Collage with gold leaf, 2014, 11.5 x 13 cm. Courtesy of the artist.
Francis Alÿs, Draft for Lada project. Collage with gold leaf, 2014, 11.5 x 13 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

Could some of Wolfgang Tillmans' photographs be regarded as 'propaganda for non-traditional sexual relationships'? We don't think so, though the Duma may differ. In 2013, when the Russian parliament passed a law banning such material, Europe's roving art biannual, Manifesta, nevertheless resolved to keep its tenth event at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, despite this uncomfortable combination of censorship and homophobia finding its way on to  the statute books.

 

Wolfgang Tillmans, Anders pulling splinter from his foot (2004)
Wolfgang Tillmans, Anders pulling splinter from his foot (2004)

Earlier this week the biennial unveiled its list of artists, and the line-up certainly appears to show no signs of compromise. Tillmans is joined by other strong, mid-career artists such as Francis AlÿsThomas Hirschhorn and Pawel Althamer, as well as less-established names like Ragnar Kjartansson, some big hitters, such as Cindy Sherman, Bruce Nauman, Boris Mikhailov and Gerhard Richter, and three late, 20th century greats: Henri Matisse, Joseph Beuys and Louise Bourgeois.

 

How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (1965) by Joseph Beuys
How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (1965) by Joseph Beuys

The organisers have also made it clear that Russia's annexing of Crimea will not affect this year's event, which takes place 28 June - 31 October, despite two of the artists, Mikhailov and Alevtina Kakhidze, having been born in Ukraine. At the press conference on Tuesday, Manifesta's director, Hedwig Fijen, reminded journalists that, "Manifesta has chosen to operate within contested areas. We choose to do this because we believe art provides an ultimate perspective and reflection on society."

 

Pawel Althamer, Perparing for Almech, 2011
Pawel Althamer, Perparing for Almech, 2011

Some perspectives, such as the work of Althamer, has been specially commissioned by Manifesta; others, such as key paintings by Matisse, are drawn from the Hermitage's own extensive collection. In all it's a strong selection, overseen by the veteran Swedish curator Kasper König. Since the Hermitage is state run, it seems the Russian Federation is unlikely to persecute this prominent international show. Though this new edition has demonstrated how much Europe has changed since Manifesta's foundation in the 1990s. We hope this year's event goes off without a hitch.

 

Untitled #475 (2008) by Cindy Sherman
Untitled #475 (2008) by Cindy Sherman

To see the full list, go to Manifesta's site. For more on Tillmans, take a look at our newly updated monograph; for Pawel Althamer consider our new book. Meanwhile, Cindy Sherman's practice is comprehensively covered in our Phaidon Focus edition; Joseph Beuys is also the subject of a new book in our Phaidon Focus series; we're proud to publish Boris Mikhailov's great photobook, Yesterday's Sandwich. And we've also wonderful monographs on Francis Alÿs, Thomas Hirschhorn; and an excellent new book on Bruce Nauman, The True Artist. Buy them all from the people who made them here. 


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