Manif d’art 5 – The Québec City Biennial

NEW YORK CITY, March 5, 2010 – Manifestation internationale d’art de Québec, the organizer of Manif d’art 5, announces the list of artists participating in Catastrophe? Quelle Catastrophe! the 5th Québec City Biennial. Taking place from May 1 through June 13, 2010, and curated by Sylvie Fortin, the Biennial features new and recent works by thirty-five artists presented in Québec City’s main cultural institutions and numerous temporary public sites. The project casts the 17th-century city as a protagonist in the exploration of catastrophe’s role in contemporary life.

In the midst of World War Two, Walter Benjamin defined history as “one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage.” Slavoj Zizek has recently demonstrated that catastrophe has expanded to the future: “the true catastrophe already is this life under the shadow of the permanent threat of catastrophe.”

The omnipresence of the catastrophic event acts as a smokescreen, ensuring the invisibility of catastrophe’s real work. Politically, the catastrophic event is used to legitimize the enactment of states of exception. But in recent years, catastrophe has also been put to preemptive use. We no longer need catastrophic events to be subjected to the logic of catastrophe. As such, its temporality has shifted, its operational terrain expanded so much that catastrophe has become the condition of contemporary life, and daily life its theater.


Patrick Altman (Québec City, Canada); Salvatore Arancio (London, UK); Bill Burns (Toronto, Canada); Luca Buvoli (New York, USA); Cooke Sasseville (Québec City, Canada); Doyon/Demers (Québec City, Canada); Sarah Emerson (Atlanta, USA); Carole Epp (Saskatoon, Canada); Brendan Fernandes (Toronto, Canada / New York, USA); Amélie-Laurence Fortin (Québec City, Canada); Laurent Grasso (Paris, France); Johan Grimonprez (Brussels, Belgium / New York, USA); Milutin Gubash (Montreal, Canada); Hadley + Maxwell (Vancouver, Canada / Berlin, Germany); Maryam Jafri (Copenhagen, Denmark); Gwen MacGregor (Toronto, Canada); Lynne Marsh (Montreal, Canada / Berlin, Germany / London, UK); Daniel Joseph Martinez (Los Angeles, USA); Michael Jones McKean (Richmond, USA); Gean Moreno (Miami, USA); Ahmet Ogut (Istanbul, Turkey / Amsterdam, The Netherlands); Ernesto Oroza (Miami, USA); Iván Navarro (New York, USA); Trevor Paglen (Berkeley, USA); Christodoulos Panayiotou (Cyprus); Gwendoline Robin (Brussels, Belgium); Samuel Roy-Bois (Vancouver, Canada); Lindsay Seers (London, UK); SUPERFLEX (Copenhagen, Denmark); Katherine Taylor (Atlanta, USA); Myriam Yates (Lennoxville, Canada)

A finalized list of artists will be released in early April 2010

For immediate circulationLynne Marsh‘s new single-channel video installation Plänterwald, a work commissioned by Manif d’art 5, takes as its protagonist a derelict amusement park at the edge of the city of Berlin. Here, the masses are present through absence, as the park’s policed borders isolate it from public space. The work plays on the absurdity of the use of force in relation to the decay and obsolescence of the site. Plänterwald pursues Marsh’s exploration of worlds contained by an internal logic, and quietly, yet relentlessly—like the defunct roller coaster—echoes the rumbles of deep social and political fault lines and their explosive potential.

Trevor Paglen‘s Debris consists of a new series of photographs of man-made debris, garbage, and flotsam in earth’s orbit. Composed of spent rocket bodies, inactive spacecraft, and satellite fragments caused by collisions and explosions, the series encapsulates perennial public fear of objects falling from the sky as well as the fact that this debris will ironically outlast humankind’s presence on the planet.

Ahmet Ögüt ‘s Exploded City premiered at the 53rd International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennial in 2009. Exploded City is inspired by Italo Calvino’s novel, Invisible Cities, based on a dialogue between Kublai Khan and Marco Polo that describes distant and fantastical cities of the past, present, and future, with each chapter devoted to a different city. Exploded City serves as an additional chapter of Calvino’s novel, in the form of a three-dimensional 1/100-scale model of a city consisting entirely of buildings that have been destroyed due to terror attacks since the 1990s.

In the film The Financial Crisis (Session I-IV), 2009, the Danish collective SUPERFLEX addresses the financial crisis and meltdown from a therapeutic perspective. The film comprises four sections (or sessions) during which we experience the fascination of speculation and power, as well as the fear, anxieties, and frustration of losing control, economic loss, and personal disaster. In one example, Session 1: The Invisible Hand introduces us to the backbone of capitalism—the idea of the “invisible hand” as the benign faith in self-regulation that prevents markets and people from spinning out of economic control. A hypnotist guides us through our worst nightmares, revealing that the crisis without is the psychosis within. Under hypnosis we are asked to interrogate that faith and to imagine a world no longer governed by the invisible hand.


Sylvie Fortin is an independent curator, art historian, critic and editor. She became Editor-in-Chief of ART PAPERS in October 2004, spearheading the magazine’s redefinition and redesign, which positioned it as a leading international contemporary art magazine. Fortin was Curator of Contemporary Art at the Ottawa Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario, 1996—2001), Program Coordinator at LA CHAMBRE BLANCHE (Québec City, Quebec, 1991-1994), and a long-term collaborator with OBORO (Montreal, Quebec, 1994 2001). Her critical essays have been published in Canadian, American and European catalogues, and her reviews have appeared in many periodicals including Art Press, CMagazine, Espace, Fuse, NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art, and Parachute. She has received numerous significant grants and awards as a critic and curator, as well as for her academic research. Fortin was named Lexus Leader of the Arts in December 2007.


Manifestation internationale d’art de Québec was created in response to the wish of the local arts community to host an important international visual art event in Québec City. The artist-run centre L’Œil de Poisson launched the first Manif d’art in the fall of 2000. Manifestation internationale d’art de Québec was officially founded as an independent organization in 2002 in order to develop the Manif d’art as a recurring and sustainable Biennial. Manifestation internationale d’art de Québec’s mission is to promote investigative and expérimental art by showcasing cutting-edge major trends

in visual art from Québec, Canada and abroad. Addressing a varied public, the organization establishes contexts for non-conventional production and exhibition, thereby fostering the emergence of new issues in contemporary art.

Manifestation internationale d’art de Québec particularly wishes to thank the Bureau des arts et de la culture de la Ville de Québec and the Québec Government Office in New York, for its support of Manif d’art 5’s public relations efforts in New York. Manifestation internationale d’art de Québec also acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts through the Audience and Market Development Office and the Québec Government Office in Boston.

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Source: Martine Goulet and Christian Talbot, Communication advisors, Manif d’art 5 418 524-1917

Press relations: Marie-ève Charlebois, Communications Sira ba 418 524-4648