Saturday, July 05, 2014

Manifesta 10

Marlene Dumas

Pawel Althamer withdrew from Manifesta 10 earlier this year, stating that he could not participate in an event, which would “take place in the shadow of fear.” St Petersburg collective Chto Delat quit in March, saying “Neither curator nor institution are capable of rising to the challenge of a dramatically evolving political situation.” Yet others chose to take part despite Russia’s conflicts in Ukraine and its repressive new anti-gay laws, which prohibit the display of "gay propaganda". Just how this law would be interpreted at Manifesta, Europe’s roving biennial was unclear. Yet, following its opening at the weekend, it seems careful curation and deft artistic response has allowed the show to display works that engage with gay rights. Phaidon photographer Wolfgang Tillmans told the Guardian that his contribution was “probably the gayest show I have done." Spread across two rooms at the State Hermitage, Tillmans’ displays are filled images of discarded clothing as well as a photograph of a metal helmet from the Hermitage collection which some claim resembles a penis. Marlene Dumas, meanwhile, is showing Great Men, 16 portraits of well-known males who were either known or rumoured to be homosexual. It’s hard to see how these ink and pencil pictures could constitute "gay propaganda", since so many of the individuals portrayed led tragic lives. “When you start to acknowledge the stories of these men it breaks your heart,” Dumas told the New York Times. LINK manifesta10

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