small states on un-certain stereotypes

Interview to Enrico Lunghi - Director of MUDAM, Musée d’Art Moderne Gran-Duc Jean luxembourg 

(At the time of the interview, Enrico Lunghi was Artistic Director of Casino Luxembourg - Forum d’art contemporain)

Luxembourg, February 2005

RITA CANAREZZA – How did Manifesta 2 come to be held at Casino Luxembourg?
ENRICO LUNGHI – Manifesta was a story very typical of Luxembourg. The Casino had only been in existence for six months. We opened it in March 1996, and Manifesta was inaugurated in July ’96, in Rotterdam. I went to see it with Bert Theis and on the way back, we talked about how it would be great to organize one in Luxembourg. I made inquiries, and after much discussion, we presented our candidacy in October ’96. In December of that year, the organizers decided the second Manifesta would be held here. We’d hadn’t been in existence for long and didn’t know whether we’d be able to forge ahead. We rallied all our forces. Moreover, we were aided by the fact that the city of Luxembourg was then the European Capital of Culture; the administration felt obliged to back the event, to support us and let us go ahead with things, at least until ‘98. As if to say: “Let’s do at least one project and then we’ll see in ’98”. But now we’ve proven ourselves.
RC – How has the Center contributed to the development of the country’s cultural policies?
EL – Luxembourg’s cultural policies were not anything planned out, anything we were involved in at the political level. Nevertheless, I think that today many people in Luxembourg are aware just how much the art center has transformed the entire cultural landscape, people’s outlook and their capacity for open mindedness, and this was definitely aided in part by the fact that we were working within a small country. In a big city, the same kind of center would be lost amid the flood of information, whereas the unique aspect of the Casino is its concrete effect on society here. One of my main concerns is precisely to respond to a real situation. I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to imitate the Palais de Tokyo or the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg. Each institution must find its own specific nature that responds to its own real situation. We can’t ignore the fact that we’re in a small country, sandwiched between Germany, France, and Belgium, where there’s never been a center for the arts until now, nor the fact that there are no major collections, as there are in Liechtenstein, for example,  due to a prince who amassed one. So context and tradition is the yardstick that is adopted. If we’ve managed to make a name for ourselves, it’s because we’ve undertaken a path that travels through a real situation. With its successes and failures, but that doesn’t matter. 
(interview extract)