5 1997: Biennials, Migration, and Itinerancy

Exhibitions in this chapter: Africus: 1st Johannesburg Biennale (1995, Johannesburg, South Africa); Manifesta 1 (1996, Rotterdam, Netherlands); Trade Routes: History and Geography: 2nd Johannesburg Biennale (1997, Johannesburg, South Africa); Borderline Syndrome: Energies of Defence: Manifesta 3 (2000, Ljubljana, Slovenia); The Emergency Biennale in Chechnya (2005--2008, various venues including Grozny, Chechnya)


This chapter addresses the history of biennials across Europe and in parts of Africa after the Cold War, in which biennials navigating the “edges” of the European Union were distinctively political in nature, either promoting particular political agendas or searching for new ones. The chapter first examines the use of biennials to bridge the divide between Eastern and Western Europe and, in certain editions of Manifesta – a biennial that takes place in a different European city for each edition – the split between the North and the South in Europe. From there, we will think about the place of biennials in locations in crisis, specifically the period immediately after the end of apartheid in South Africa. Finally, we will describe an itinerant biennial located beyond the boundaries of Europe and its troubled peripheries, at a site of enormous crisis: war-torn Chechnya.


Figure 5.1 Back cover of Manifesta 1 Rotterdam, ...

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