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08 Mar 2012

vessel International Curatorial Workshop 2012

vessel International Curatorial Workshop 2012
vessel art project


The application form must be sent to
by March 24, 2012

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June 15 to 17, 2012
 Bari (Apulia, Italy)

The Course benefits from the participation of the vessel Scientific Committee, composed of Charles Esche, Ilaria Gianni, Cecilia Guida, Denis Isaia, Viktor Misiano, Marco Petroni, Roberto Pinto, along with Vessel curators Viviana Checchia and Anna Santomauro and other art system protagonists. Fifteen young curators from around the world will be offered the opportunity to work with curators of international reputation who have participated in projects focusing on the heritage and practice of institutional criticism.

vessel's International Curatorial Workshop will be preceded by a three day event (12-14 June, 2012) organized by vessel that is part of the Giant Step symposia. vessel is one of the four institutions involved in this project, together with Van Abbemuseum | Netherlands, MOSTYN | Wales and Galeria Labyrint | Poland. Giant Step project investigates the current conditions of cultural and artistic production within institutions and the possibilities of performing a critical practice that would lead to institutional change. For further information please visit


The three day workshop will focus on the role of institutional critique in constructing an 'ideal art institution'. This task may seem utopian, but we consider it legitimate and incremental in order to create a dialogue concerning the contemporary state of art and cultural institutions. We believe in positive institutional change as well as in institutions, which would function as partners who could be held accountable for their programs. In this sense, we recognize the necessity of considering the background information revealing the various factors that contribute to what we know as 'the art world'.

The first point under scrutiny is the undeniable overlap between politics, culture and economy. Art in contemporary society is entirely dependent on the capitalist system, whereas creativity and inventiveness are often channeled into the commercial enterprise. This monetary dependence shapes art's connection with social life, which sequentially engenders a specific environment. Therefore, we must ask ourselves why even continue with this institutional mode of framing art if its practice is progressively devoid of critical thought. How rewarding is it to submit to the capitalist system, idly sit back and watch, as significant critical and ideological frameworks are pushed out of the forefront? In order to counteract this tendency, we must put forth an immense effort to generate 'alternative approaches'.

It is already common knowledge that art, politics and economy are inextricably linked; how do we utilize and add to this knowledge in order to create innovative solutions? One of the main problems with initial attempts of institutional criticism was the fact that they remained enclosed within the confines of the art field. Often self-referential and shrouded in jargon, they were further institutionalized by those institutional entities they stood against as critical opponents. We would like to question, therefore, whether art can create transversal connections with neighboring fields, paying attention and receiving input from what takes place in various other regions of society and life, thus forging links with a multitude of critical ideas. We also envision an enhanced role for the public, in which it can play an active role through discussions, dialogue and debate in order to achieve recognition of speech and opinion.

What becomes of the institution in times of crisis? Instead of being a vessel for the desires, aspirations and projects of societal improvement, it becomes an instrument for the management of subjectivities, a façade with little critical framework, a medium where the concept of art as public good progressively fades away. In such times, it becomes then necessary to imagine an 'ideal institution', not with the hope of creating another fiction, but rather as a method to enact site-specific changes to actual institutional bodies we deal with every day.

How to Apply

Interested applicants of any nationality may apply. No study certificate and academic degree required. The course will be delivered in English: for this reason at least an intermediate level of English is required. The screen committee for selecting applicants consists of Viviana Checchia and Anna Santomauro, the curators of vessel. The application form must be sent to by March 24, 2012.

See all details of vessel International Curatorial Course and how to apply on vessel website