Hedwig Fijen, founder and director of nomadic European biennial Manifesta, has proposed Ukraine as the host of the event’s 2028 edition. Fijen put forth the idea at a press conference in Prishtina, Kosovo, last week, at which she named Kyiv as the prospective home of Manifesta 17. The city has twice sought to host the biennial, most recently submitting an application to welcome Manifesta 14, which opened in Prishtina July 22; wary of the continuing conflict in the Donbas region in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Manifesta officials rejected the suggestion. Russia’s violent invasion of Ukraine has significantly increased European support of the latter country.
Fijen’s proposal, which casts the 2028 iteration as joint initiative between the Manifesta Foundation and the Ukrainian Institute for Culture, is unusual in that it circumvents the typical process via which a host city is chosen. In keeping with the rules laid out by the biennial, cities or regions must first apply to host a specific edition of the event, with Fijen and the foundation board eventually choosing the winning city from a short list of applicants. Of note, Fijen’s plan calls for past and future Manifesta host cities—among them Palermo, Italy; Rotterdam, and Zurich—to “adopt” Ukrainian art and education institutions.
According to Artnet News, which interviewed Fijen following the press conference, a number of the parties to be involved have expressed interest. The Ukrainian Institute for Culture has submitted a letter of intent to host Manifesta 17, and, on the heels of a meeting in Prishtina between Fijen and delegations from past and future host cities, the mayors of those municipalities are set to commit in writing to their participation in the 2028 event. By awarding Kyiv host status and securing the assistance of other host cities, Fijen hopes the Manifesta Foundation can “help rebuild and re-strengthen the cultural ecosystem and infrastructure of Ukraine in the next six years to come.”