Queen Paola of Belgium visits Manifesta 9
On Tuesday July 3, 2012, in the afternoon, Queen Paola of Belgium paid a visit to Manifesta 9 in the former coal mining complex of Waterschei in Genk, Limburg, Belgium.
Governor of the province of Limburg Herman Reynders, Mayor of the city of Genk Wim Dries, Director of Manifesta Hedwig Fijen and others welcomed Queen Paola in front of the impressive former coal mining building. Upon her arrival the ravishing flower girls Lina and Sharifa Laurens from Genk, handed a white flower bouquet to the Queen.
After a short welcoming and an introduction to Manifesta 9, director Hedwig Fijen guided Queen Paola through the three sections in Manifesta 9. About 20 journalists and reporters form both local and national media also joined the tour.
In the heritage section of Manifesta 9, the Queen stopped at, amongst others, Het Mijndepot, the sculptures Miner's Heads by Manuel Duran, the vast collection of working booklets Livrets des Ouvrier Mineurs and at Symbolon, the torn and sewn portrait of the Greek couple Roumeliotis who migrated to Genk to work in the mines.
Coördinator of the heritage section, Edgar Hermans, and president of Het Mijndepot, Xavier Huygen, gave some more explanation on the different works and installations while former miners were flanking her parcours in their working uniform.
Rocco Granata, who as a miner's son and internationally renowned artist participates in the heritage section of Manifesta 9 with a beautiful collection of objects, memories and stories, had a short talk with the Queen.
The tour continued along the historical and contemporary art works, where both Hedwig Fijen and assistant to the curatorial team Mieke Mels informed the Queen on the background of several works. Michaël Matthys and Ante Timmermans were present to speak to the Queen about their work on show in Manifesta 9.
The Queen was astonished by the tour throughout the exhibition. She was very well informed on the past of the region, on the history of art and on the concept of Manifesta 9, but did not hesitate to ask a lot of questions to visitors, team members and artists.
To conclude the royal afternoon, Queen Paola received a souvenir of Manifesta 9 and she signed the Golden Book of the city of Genk.
Thanks to the concept of curators Cuauhtémoc Medina, Dawn Ades and Katerina Gregos, combining contemporary art, historical art and regional heritage with a link to the mining history into one comprehensive exhibition, and thanks to the elaborate program composed by the enthusiastic Art Mediation and Education Team, Manifesta 9 reaches out to a broad public, ranging from local youngsters to journalists and international art professionals and tourists.
The Queen herself appreciates very much this multi-layered aspect and the variety in Manifesta 9.
Her visit was in other words a very beautiful token of her appreciation for Manifesta 9, all its partners, volunteers, collaborators and visitors.
You can find more photos here