Manifesta 15, the European Nomad Biennial, will be held from September 8 to November 24, 2024, but the machinery is already running and beginning to pick up cruising speed. After a first stage of field research and work on the ground (one of the peculiarities of the biennial is that it gets involved in the particular reality of the cities where it is located), the team led by Hedwig Fijen has already defined the concept that will articulate the program of activities and also its great objective: to think again and above all to "recover" Barcelona and its metropolitan area, but this time from the field of culture.
Unlike what happened with the Olympic Games or the Fòrum de les Cultures, “reactivating the city has nothing to do with showing ourselves to the world but with taking care of ourselves and nature”, points out the New York-based architect Sergio Pardo, who From his status as a "creative mediator" (something like a curator with a broad perspective who interacts with artists, but also with thinkers, biologists, architects, urban planners, designers, ecologists...) he has been in charge of detecting the great challenges ecological and social aspects of the future that are already part of the urgent needs of the present: from connecting the green lung, Collserola, with its rivers and the coast to reimagining the relationship of the territory with the sea, creating a balance between the modernization of infrastructures and the environment or address a transition towards a car-free city, improving public transport.
"Currently cars occupy 70% of the public space, while the green space per citizen is 2%," argues Pardo, for whom rethinking regional Barcelona involves rethinking the roundabouts that are like "the medieval walls of the XXI century". “Barcelona needs to once again make those spaces it thought it had won but had actually lost its own”, he says, adding that now the time has come to “rethink the city for its inhabitants”.
The three main nodes or areas of action of Manifesta 15 will be El Prat de Llobregat, Collserola and El Besòs, and the activities will expand to ten other cities in the metropolitan area: L'Hospitalet, Terrassa, Sabadell, Badalona, Mataró, Sant Cugat, Cornellà, El Prat, Granollers and Santa Coloma de Gramenet. "Culture is not going to solve problems, but it can introduce topics for debate and think about possible alternatives through the actions of international artists in collaboration with local entities and artists."
Par Fijen is about "looking at the world through the eyes of Barcelona", and recalls that one of the characteristics of Manifesta, which in the past was hosted by other Spanish cities, such as San Sebastián (2004) and Murcia (2010), is the footprint that they leave where they go. In its last edition, held in Pristina (125,000 visitors), the legacy was the start-up of a permanent cultural center. "Here we still don't know what it will be, but the idea is that a permanent legacy remains, be it tangible or intangible."
In a second phase, between five and ten groups will be called to work on the areas already indicated and from there, in September, a second cultural mediator will be incorporated, yet to be designated, and a call will be opened to creators from different disciplines (architects, artists, scientists, activists...) who want to participate with their proposals.