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An inquiry into the place of the institution within contemporary culture.

Giant Step was a project organized for the purpose of discovering the place of the institution within contemporary culture, with institutional change being the ultimate goal.

To provide a range of perspectives, Giant Step involved two internationally established institutions, Van Abbemuseum (represented by Charles Esche) and MOSTYN | Wales (represented by Alfredo Cramerotti), and two that were less connected to a rigid institutional structure, vessel (represented by Viviana Checchia and Anna Santomauro in cooperation with Vlad Morariu) and Galeria Labirynt (represented by Magdalena Linkowska in cooperation with Anna Smolak and Magdalena Ujma).

Giant Step began by researching the specific issues and urgencies that occurred in each of the local and national contexts where these institutions function (Italy, Netherlands, Poland, UK). In the second phase of the project, there was an analysis of the various applications of cultural production in Europe in order to foster dynamic dialogue and discussion.

The main goal of this project was to establish possible roles that institutions could play in the cultural production of a specific area, in order to respond to the needs of the area itself. In this process, Giant Step aimed to develop the concept of an “ideal” institution, which entails the necessities of supporting and developing culture and creating critical dialogue. This was a multidisciplinary process carried out through the format of a “nomad symposium”, which allowed the application of efforts to a variety of local artistic communities and audiences.

Due to high influence from the heritage of historical institutional critique, Giant Step focused on relaying this material; local cultural operators were provided with books, interviews, workshops, and talks, which were the basis for the discussions. Multiple issues were addressed, such as the adaptation of “traditional” cultural institutions to complicated economic, social, and cultural contexts, the ideal form of the institution and its production, and the adaptation of current formats to keep up with cultural and societal change.

The Giant Step project began on January 9, 2012, with all partners starting their research activity with their local artistic and cultural communities in order to focus on aspects that were discussed during the symposia. Each respective partner had a separate timeframe for the Giant Step symposia.

June 12th signaled the start of activity production, with the first of the four symposia. Promoted by vessel, it also found the basis for another important appointment of the Italian institution: vessel’s International Curatorial Workshop, an intensive three days workshop for young curators from all over the world, which in this second edition, June 15–17, dealt with the theme of institutional critique.

Giant Step project was supported by the European Cultural Foundation.