Manchester Art Gallery

11 Rooms – Group Show

This show brought together 11 artists to create new and re-imagined work, through 'durational encounters'.

Manchester Art Gallery
Saturday 9 July 2011–Sunday 17 July 2011


Over the run of previous festivals, with the iconoclastic Il Tempo del Postino and the epic Marina Abramovic Presents, Manchester International Festival (MIF) has established a reputation for commissioning some of the most exciting live art events to be experienced anywhere. 11 Rooms built upon that work, attracting the attention and energy of the international art world to Manchester for the duration of the festival.

Curators Klaus Biesenbach (MoMA PS1 and MoMA, New York) and Hans Ulrich Obrist (Serpentine Gallery, London) brought together 11 of the most interesting artists creating durational encounters to make new and re-imagined work for MIF. Each explored the ephemeral aspects of art, focusing on an idea or situation that both establishes and erases itself in the same instance, shaping an unmediated experience for the audience in a series of specially-created spaces at Manchester Art Gallery.


Marina Abramovic
John Baldessari
Allora and Calzadilla
Simon Fujiwara
Joan Jonas
Laura Lima
Roman Ondák
Lucy Raven
Tino Sehgal
Santiago Sierra
Xu Zhen

Curator and artist biographies

Marina Abramovic (b. 1946, Belgrade, Serbia). Since the beginning of her career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, Marina Abramovi? has pioneered performance as a visual art form, creating some of the most important early works. The body has always been both her subject and medium. Exploring her physical and mental limits in works that ritualise the simple actions of everyday life, she has withstood pain, exhaustion and danger in her quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. From 1975-88, Abramovi? and the German artist Ulay performed together, dealing with relations of duality.

Jennifer Allora (b. 1974, Philadelphia, PA) and Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971, Havana, Cuba) are known for their complex artistic practice encompassing sculpture, performance, sound and video. Simultaneously critical and playful, their conceptual works are both thought provoking and politically incisive. The artists live and work in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Allora & Calzadilla have had various monographic exhibitions worldwide including at the Serpentine Gallery, Renaissance Society, Kunsthalle Zurich, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Haus Der Kunst, Kunstmuseum Krefeld, and National Museum, Oslo.

John Baldessari (b.1931) was born in National City, California. He attended San Diego State University and did post-graduate work at Otis Art Institute, Chouinard Art Institute and the University of California at Berkeley. He taught at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California from 1970 until 1988 and the University of California at Los Angeles from 1996 until 2007. Baldessari’s artwork has been featured in more than 200 solo exhibitions and in over 1000 group exhibitions in the U.S. and Europe. His projects include artist books, videos, films, billboards and public works.

Simon Fujiwara (b. 1982) is a British-Japanese artist who uses novels, theatre plays, lectures and installations to script and perform his own biography as fiction; a drama in which he plays the roles of multiple characters: artist, novelist, anthropologist, eroticist, architect and playwright.

Joan Jonas (b. 1936) was born in New York City where she also lives and works today. A pioneer of video and groundbreaking performance art and one of the most important artists to emerge in the late 1960s and 1970s, Jonas’ projects and experiments provided the foundation on which much video performance art would be based. Her influences also extended to conceptual art, theatre performance and other visual media. The exploration of gender, identity and the fragmented female image along with women’s shifting roles have fueled her art for over 40 years. Jonas is also a professor of Visual Arts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Laura Lima (b. 1971) lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. Lima is a conceptual artist primarily concerned with the human body – often as part of a larger whole, whether connecting to or contradicting other objects. She has presented her artworks at major exhibitions in Brazil including the Sao Paulo Biennial.

Roman Ondák (b. 1966) was born in Slovakia and now lives and works in Bratislava, Slovakia. Ondák’s work, which might take the form of installation, photography, drawing, and performance art, explores specific situations which very often involve people he has a relationship with. Asking them to follow his instructions while also interjecting their own creativity, the result is a controlled study of collective imagination. Ondák’s work has been shown at MoMa, Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, the Shanghai Biennale, daaadgalerie, Berlin and the 53rd Venice Biennale among others. Two of his most recent works, Time Capsule and Stampede were shown at Modern Art Oxford.

Lucy Raven (b.1977) was born in Arizona and is now based in New York and in Oakland. Raven is an artist working with a variety of media, including video, film and animation, as well as the live format of the illustrated lecture, to present detailed accounts of global economic and social infrastructures. Her work has been exhibited at art and film spaces internationally.

Tino Sehgal (b. 1976) is a British-German artist based in Berlin. His work involves one or more people carrying out instructions conceived by the artist. These works are ephemeral, establishing and erasing themselves in the same instant and defying the conventional relationship between audience and art work. They can be retold and repositioned as part of a collection. Sehgal has exhibited at a number of important venues including the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Tate Britain, Manifesta 4, the 2005 Venice Biennale and he also created work for the group show Il Tempo Del Postino for MIF 2007. Sehgal will be the thirteenth artist to develop a new work for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall as part of The Unilever Series, in 2012.

Santiago Sierra (b. 1966) is a Spanish artist living in Madrid. Using his art to address structures of power, Sierra demonstrates situations of exploitation and marginalisation through a provocative politicisation of minimalism, often hiring underprivileged individuals or groups to undertake menial tasks in exchange for money. His work has most recently been exhibited at Queensland Art Gallery – Gallery of Modern Art, Australia and ARTIUM Centro – Museo de Art Contemporáneo Vasco, Spain.

Xu Zhen (b.1977) is a Chinese artist living in Shanghai. Zhen graduated from the Shanghai School of Arts and Craft in 1996 and still lives and works in Shanghai. Zhen won the top prize at the China Contemporary Art Award in 2004 and since 2001 when he was invited to the 49th Venice Biennale, Zhen exhibited his works widely. His exhibitions include China Power Station: Part I, Battersea Power Station, London, 2006; On Mobility, De Appel, Amsterdam, 2006; China Contemporary – Art, Architecture and Visual Culture; Museum Boijmanns van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 2006; The Thirteen – Chinese Video Now, PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York, 2006; Restless, Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, 2006; Universal Studios, Beijing, 2006 and Xu Zhen, H-Space at ShanghART Gallery, Shanghai, 2006. Until June 2009 Xu Zhen worked under the company name MadeIn Inc.

Hans Ulrich Obrist is co-director of the Serpentine Gallery in London. He has served as curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris and Museum in Progress, Vienna. Obrist has curated over 250 exhibitions worldwide since the Kitchen show (World Soup) in 1991: 1994; Take Me, I’m Yours, 1995; Manifesta 1, 1996; Cities on the Move, 1997; Nuit Blanche, 1998; 1st Berlin Biennale, 1998; Utopia Station, 2003; 2nd Guangzhou Triennale, 2005; 1st & 2nd Moscow Biennale, 2005 and 2007; Lyon Biennale, 2007; and Yokohama Triennale, 2008. Obrist also conceived the Marathon series of public events (2005-2010). He is a contributing editor of Abitare, Another Magazine, Artforum, Paradis Magazine, and 032c Magazine and in March 2011, he was awarded the Bard College Award for Curatorial Excellence.

Klaus Biesenbach is director of MoMA PS1 and a Chief Curator at Large at The Museum of Modern Art. Among the exhibitions Biesenbach has organised or co-organized internationally are Laurel Nakadate: Only the Lonely, 2011; Marina Abramovi?: The Artist is Present, 2010; Performance 1:Tehching Hsieh, 2009; Pipilotti Rist: Pour Your Body Out (7354 Cubic Meters), 2008; Doug Aitken: sleepwalkers, 2007, cocommissioned with Creative Time; Regarding Terror: The Red Army Faction Exhibition Berlin and Graz, 2005; The Shanghai Biennale, 2002; Projected Images at Venice Biennale, 1995; Hybrid Workspace at Documenta X, Kassel, 1997 and 37 Rooms, Berlin, 1992. Biesenbach founded Kunst-Werke (KW) Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin in 1991, as well as the Berlin Biennale in 1996.


Adrian Searle has some unnerving confrontations

BBC Manchester
“In the revolving door, you either get out of the way or get trapped in the corner. You become part of the artwork.”

The Telegraph
This makes for an intimate, up close and at times slightly scary experience. It also carries with it more than a whiff of danger.


This exhibition was commissioned by Manchester International Festival, Manchester Art Gallery and the International Arts Festival RUHRTRIENNIAL 2012-2014.

This exhibition was produced by Manchester International Festival and Manchester Art Gallery.

With thanks to Heiner Goebbels for his collaboration and support.

Main image © John Baldessari

Image from DNA Animation by Drew Berry included in the Björk Biophilia App Suite and Festival performance