Manifesta Diary, Part 1: Rovereto and Fortezza
By Laura McLean-Ferris

'It's happening', announces the invitation to Manifesta 7. This is a cheerful fact not to be taken for granted after a four year absence -- Manifesta 6, the 2006 edition, was to be held in the divided city of Nicosia in Cyprus, but was cancelled after the divisions between the Turkish and Greek halves of the island proved too wide to be bridged by an art exhibition. Known for reinvention, Manifesta this year spans 130km and four mountain towns of Italy's stunning South Tyrol: Rovereto, Trento, Bolzano/Bozen and Fortezza/Franzenfeste.

View from the train / Ricardo Jacinto, Labyrithitis, 2007, in the courtyard of the Manifattura Tabacchi in Rovereto

Three curatorial teams take a town each: Adam Budak (Rovereto), Anselm Franke and Hilde Peleg (Trento), and the Raqs Media Collective (Bolzano/Bozen), with the teams collaborating on an exhibition in the fortress at Fortezza. This structure, it would seem, allows for a deeper level of engagement with the area, taking in several types of sites and histories rather than focusing on one or two. It also seems to circumvent the dubious artworld 'swamping' that biennales tend to inspire, where we all sweep into town for a few days, then promptly disappear.