Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

  • Schools Project

    Formal education is an important social institute, that forms our society, its values, social behaviour, and cultural norms. In each Manifesta edition we investigate …

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  • Community project

    The Community programme of Manifesta follows the mediation approach. Following the findings of the pre-biennial urban research and citizens’ consultations, it aims at engaging …

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  • Education and Community spaces

All education projects

Un Grande Giardino

Education: community project

The most ambitious and challenging persuits of Manifesta lie in the realm of urban commons of the host city. The path to commons consciousness in Palermo is very twisted, but no cultural initiative can develop successfully and meaningfully there without participating in social interactions and situating ourselves in relation to the community. Part of Manifesta 12 Community programme concentrated on the neighbourhood ZEN2, the area of artistic intervention of Manifesta 12 participants Gilles Clément and Coloco.

ZEN (Zona Espansione Nord) is a social housing district located in the northern outskirts of Palermo, re-named San Filippo Neri in the nineties, and divided in two well-defined areas, ZEN1 and ZEN2. ZEN2 was constructed in 1969, designed by Italian architect Vittorio Gregotti. The project was inspired by the idea of the walled city and is organised in blocks of so-called insulas. The political situation between 1975 and 1980 disrupted the overall transformation of the neighbourhood and left ZEN2 without services and various infrastructure. Furthermore, due to an extreme housing shortage, squatting in these buildings became common. These factors created a complex social environment and resulted in the degradation of the area.

It was all about taking time, that artistic projects often lack. We took time for getting to know each other, learning about how neighbours used to share communal space and the ideas and the needs the have had. The workshops were partly led by home-based collectives of artists and activists known for their participatory practices, such as Studio Pica, Orto Capovolto, and Teatro degli Spiriti. Some of them continued collaboration with Zen Insieme beyond Manifesta 12.

The programme played an essential role in situating the artistic intervention and the transformation process within the community, not only through workshops, but more importantly by providing space for social gatherings where we all spent time together and were getting used to share a new common space.