AICA The Netherlands Manifesta Debate

Manifesta Debate in Amsterdam: no boycott


During the Manifesta debate organised by AICA Netherlands on Thursday April 24 in Amsterdam at Castrum Peregrini, all panel members agreed on one thing at least: Manifesta 10 must go on. A boycott would hurt everybody involved and will not contribute anything to the promotion of human rights in Russia.

Author: Machteld Leij

When AICA Netherlands’ board wrote a letter last November to Manifesta’s director Hedwig Fijen appealing her to reconsider St. Petersburg as the venue for Manifesta 10 and asking her to explain how the consequences of criminalising homosexuality and the alleged promotion of homosexual propaganda among minors can be dealt with, Russia’s invasion of Crimea was not an issue yet. The letter also expressed their worries that Manifesta will be abused as a vehicle for propaganda. During the debate, led by art critic Edo Dijksterhuis, a panel consisting of Manifesta director Hedwig Fijen, Russian artist Gluklya, Dutch human rights ambassador Lionel Veer, Russia expert and Manifesta advisory board member Sjeng Scheijen and COC’s Koen van Dijk stated their views. Can a Manifesta exist in an environment of censorship and possibly self-censorship? How critical can art be in St. Petersburg when any comment on the escalating violence against homosexuals can be suppressed? The criminalisation of homosexuality makes freedom of expression impossible and is unacceptable, poses AICA Netherlands chairman Robert-Jan Muller.

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