• Miessen_Manifesta Backbench 1

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Backbench

Manifesta European Biennial of Contemporary Art

2010
Murcia, ES
Type: Exhibition Architecture

Commissioned by Bassam el Baroni and Jeremy Beaudry

In collaboration with Ergin Cavusoglu

Credits
  • Design by nOffice (Miessen Pflugfelder Nilsson)
  • Photography by: Pablo Ferao

nOffice have been invited to design one of the main venues for Manifesta 8 Biennial in Murcia. After being closed for over 30 years, the former post office of Murcia was rethought and refurbished by nOffice in order to open its doors once again, and this time for Manifesta 8. The iconic building situated in the city centre of Murcia housed part of the exhibition called 'Overscore' by curatorial collective ACAF (Bassam el Baroni and Jeremy Beaudry).

The proposal sought to temporarily transform an abandoned post office into a contemporary exhibition space in the form of a Hub that allowed different artist groups and social processes to operate within the exhibition as a form of ‘propositional, critical machine’. As most artworks are full-scale installations the spatial framework merged into a carefully choreographed entity, which simultaneously acted as backdrop, stage and display, thus enabling various forms of usage and strands of narratives to merge and cross. The Hub was designed as a coherent environment yet embodies a multiplicity of voices - a democratic archipelago in which hidden structures expose subliminal yet intended narratives.

For us, as architects, Manifesta was and, within the remit of future projects, remains a challenge, since - within its framework - we tried to explore the thin line between producing content matter in the art world, while being (correctly or incorrectly) understood as a service provider of sorts: delivering and enhancing the performance of matter whilst maintaining a certain autonomy of production.

The Backbench was the centrepiece of the 'Overscore' exhibition, situated in the central atrium of the Old Post Office. Based on the layout of the British Parliament, with its spatial and procedural protocols, the Backbench was conceived as an intense discursive forum that both enabled and structured the exchange of ideas. The Backbench acted as a Hub that allowed different artist groups and social processes to operate within the exhibition as a form of 'propositional critical machine'. It was designed as a coherent environment that embodied a multiplicity of voices - a democratic archipelago in which hidden structures expose subliminal yet intended narratives. The discursive sessions were filmed by artist and filmmaker Ergin Cavusoglu.

Backbench (2010)

- Five channel synchronized (1920x1080) HD video installation, sound by Ergin Çavuşoğlu
- Duration: 47:05 min, continuous loop
- Dimensions variable

- Set design by nOffice

- MDF, Metallic paint
- Dimensions: 12m x 10m x 3m
- Video installation courtesy the Artist, and Manifesta 8 Region of Murcia
- Set design courtesy nOffice, and Manifesta 8 Region of Murcia

Photography by Pablo Ferao

Further, nOffice developed a display strategy and structure for the MoCHA Archive. The Museum of Contemporary Hispanic Art (MoCHA) began life as a small gallery in 1973. The archive has been used as a catalyst for speculating on the origins and future of many of the recognised parameters in contemporary art, from identity politics to institutional critique. nOffice designed a framework which enables the MoCHA archive to be displayed and continuously reworked by the visitors throughout the duration of Manifesta 8.