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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.


The Course consists of a single three-day workshop. It is practice-oriented and conceived as an organic structure. The participants will be expected to share their experience in dealing with institutions and asked to join workgroups chaired by members of the organizing team. The objectives of the curatorial course are:

  • To articulate a consistent collective reflection on the contemporary roles of the art institutions in the current economic, cultural and political climate;
  • To set up working platforms which would enable participants to develop further curatorial projects;
  • To encourage processes of networking among young creators in the visual art scene and the international circulation of cultural projects.


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 model 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 a 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.

We are pleased to announce the selected international curators that will attend the International Curatorial Workshop 2012, the ICW will take place in Bari (Italy) from 15th to 17th June 2012.

Valerio Borgonuovo is an art historian and curator based in Bologna where he works as an independent curator, writer and consultant. He is currently conducting together with Silvia Franceschini and in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou a research project which will be published in 2014 by Le Bord de l'eau Éditions on Global Tools, a counter-school of architecture, art and design founded in Italy and held from 1973 to 1975; as well as co-curating Anomali, an articulate research and exhibition program for Viafarini DOCVA (Milan) focused on a selection of Italian artists born and raised together with commercial television broadcasting. He is a member of the curatorial board of Viafarini DOCVA/Documentation Center for Visual Arts (Milan).

Maja Ciric (1977) is an independent curator and art critic. She is a citizen of Belgrade, Serbia and . Her interests span from curating as institutional critique, through the research of methodology, and epistemology of curating, to the international circulation of ideas and curating. She worked in Belgrade, New York, Vienna, San Diego, Dubai, Shanghai etc. Her logic of practice can not be defined by the dominant geopolitical niches and their impact on the art world. She tries to think the art world in terms of criticality and post-globalism. She is a recipient of the Lazar Trifunovic Award for Art Criticism (Belgrade), the CEC ArtsLink Independent Projects Award (New York) and the ISCP Curator Award (New York). Benjamin Fallon is an independent curator and designer based in Edinburgh. He served as co-director of Embassy Gallery between 2008 and 2010, was as a member of Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop’s Artistic Programme Committee from 2006 to 2008. Benjamin has been a visiting lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art (CVCS) since 2010 and is a visiting lecturer at Edinburgh’s Telford College. Benjamin is currently developing a number of curatorial projects including the exhibition ‘Escape Velocity’ with the artist and writer John Beagles exploring the impact and role of digital technology on culture and society, The online journal ‘URS’ focussing on the intersections between art, politics and technology and the working group ‘Let’s get together and call ourselves an institute.’ researching the possibilities for new forms of institutional practice. More about Benjamin

Sasha Gora is currently finishing up her dissertation - "Art and Institution - From the Museum as Medium to Institutional Critique: the Development of the Exhibition of Contemporary Art in Historical Museums" - for a master's degree in international museum studies from the University of Gothenburg. She has studied art history and international development studies at McGill University and the University of Copenhagen and has held internships at the Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Museum (formerly the Victoria & Albert Bombay), Lothringer_13_Halle and Nature Morte Berlin. Her writing has appeared in Public and Museums of Ideas: Commitment and Conflict. She is a member of the collective Whose Museum.

Michele Horrigan is an artist and curator based in Limerick and Berlin. She studied fine art at the Stadelschule Frankfurt and the University of Ulster. She is visual arts curator in the Belltable arts centre in Limerick City. Since 2006, she is the founder and curatorial director of Askeaton Contemporary Arts. Through an annual residency and production programme, the organization has commissioned over forty artists projects in direct relationship to the town of Askeaton, County Limerick.

Marianna Hovhannisyan (1986, Yerevan, Armenia) has graduated from the Department of Fine Arts at the Armenian Open University in 2007, while in 2008-2009 - the Ecole du Magasin international curatorial training program (France). Several times she took part in the International Summer School for Art Curators organized by AICA Armenia. Marianna is particularly interested in the methods and forms of collaboration in the field of contemporary art which carries out educational aspects. Since 2007 she has been one of the initiators of educational programs at the Armenian Open University, DFA. Currently, she is working as a co-curator with Elodie Dufour of “Looking for Validations” project, as well as “Archive-Practice” a curatorial project, enlarged research on Armenian contemporary art.

Samantha Jones , international Artist, Curator and Researcher; based in Liverpool, UK. Samantha Jones holds a PHD scholarship at Liverpool John Moores University undertaking a collaborative research study with the Liverpool Biennial. Through her role as an embedded researcher within the Liverpool Biennial’s 2Up2Down/Homebaked project which is led by 2011 Leonore Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change winner Jeanne van Heeswijk, Samantha's research examines the biopolitical nexus of biennial festivals within urban regeneration, wellbeing, public art curation and public engagement. Through the curation of ‘In the Field Discussions’, a series of publically situated curatorial discussions between Jeanne van Heeswijk and international curators, Samantha is currently developing a critical framework for the critiquing of the model and institutional infrastructure of the ‘biennial’ .

Valeria Mancinelli (1986) lives in Venice. She holds a MA in Visual Art from the IUAV University in Venice. Her research focus has been on the artist role in the post-Fordist society. Since 2008 she is an activist of the independent space for contemporary art S.a.L.E. Docks in Venice. In 2011 she co-founds the group Trial Version focused on temporary urban exhibitions.

Maya Mikelsone (born in 1982 in Riga, Latvia) is a curator based in Paris. She has studied Philosophy of Art at University Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne followed by curatorial training program at École du Magasin. Currently she is collaborating with Latvian Center for Contemporary Art. More about Maya

Elisa Montesinos Pustkowska is a graduate of the Université La Sorbonne-Paris IV and the Universidad de Valencia with a double-degree in Art History. She has completed a Master in Contemporary Art and Visual Culture from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. She has worked for the Museo Nacional Reina Sofía and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

Victoria Preston is the founder of Cultural Capital Consultancy. Previously she created the not-for-profit art space, Wings Projects and was a director of the Contemporary Art Centre in Geneva. She has recently completed a PhD in Institutional Critique at the University of London. She holds an MFA in Curating, an INSEAD MBA and graduated in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University.

Danielle Rago is an architecture writer and curator based in NY City and Los Angeles. She is Co-Director and Curator of ASAP, a not-for-profit arts institution that advocates architecture and its value as part of a broader social, political, and aesthetic discourse. She is also a freelance contributor to a number of international publications on architecture and design. She has worked with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and published in Architectural Record, The Architect’s Newspaper , LOG: Observations on Contemporary Architecture and the City , and Domus . Danielle holds a Master’s degree in Architecture History and Critical Thinking from the Architectural Association, London where her focus was on the shifting role of the institution and media, and how contemporary architecture and its public is being produced and mediated through the institution and curator.

Wilma Renfordt , b. 1982, dramaturge, curator, performer and writer. Her work focusses on the exploration of and intervention into the spatial, discursive and fictional construction of societal interaction. Frequent collaborations include theatre company copy & waste, Projektbüro Friedrich von Borries and Theorie- und Praxisgemeinschaft Dr. Fahimi , with projects at (non-)institutions such as HAU (Berlin), Steirischer Herbst (Graz), Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Hamburg) and WestGermany (Berlin). Her texts have been published in Texte zur Kunst and Merve.

Lisa Schmidt (* 1982 in Starnberg, Germany) studied cultural sciences in Hildesheim. Since 2005 she has been a member of the curatorial collective a7.ausstellungen, worked as a curatorial assistant for Kunstverein München and as artistic director of Kunstverein Hildesheim. In her projects and research, she often deals with the relations and intersections between production and presentation, process and product, artistic practice and theory. Currently, she lives and works in Hamburg.

Laura Simpson is a curator based in Dundee, Scotland. As Chair of the artist-led group Generator (2002 - 2005), she curated many projects with local and international artists and built links with other artist-groups throughout Europe. Since 2007, Laura has been Assistant Curator at Exhibitions, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, where she works on a diverse, critically engaged exhibition program involving students, staff and invited artists across four galleries including the Cooper Gallery. Laura's independent curation and writing projects are archived at

Logan Sisley studied art history at the University of Otago and the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He is a member of the studio team for the studio 468 residency programme, Dublin, Ireland, and is currently Exhibitions Curator at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane where he has recently curated Revolutionary States: Home Rule and Modern Ireland.

Mihaela Varzari is a London-based researcher in contemporary arts and art critic. She holds an MA in History of Art from Birkbeck College, University of London and curated No Spitting, a participatory art project supported by Tower Hamlets Council, London. She is a contributor to the magazines IDEA art+society & ARTA. Her interest is focused on the formation of artist collectives as a critical response to what could be defined as “the age of narcissism” defined by the shift of paradigm in relation to repression on the current art scene and in the socio-political context.

Suzanne Wallinga (b. 1981, currently living and working in Amsterdam, The Netherlands) is an independent curator. Since December 2011 she has been artistic director of TAG in The Hague, The Netherlands, an art space dedicated to supporting the production and presentation of new forms of artistic practice. Suzanne holds a Masters of Cultural Studies from the University of Amsterdam and is the first recipient of the Young Curators Grant of Frans Hals Museum|De Hallen Haarlem. Her main interests relate to artistic research, art and knowledge production, contemporary aesthetics, and methodological strategies in art production.


From June 15 to 17th 2012 was vessel’s International Curatorial Workshop.

The first day of the workshop started with a discussion on how to further vessel’s practice in light of the specific challenges of interacting with an area marginal to the dominant art market. Rachel Pafe further elaborated upon this in her comparative study analyzing the strategies and tactics that Group Material, an artist collective, used in the 1980s and vessel is currently appropriating in its context of development. Francesco Scasciamacchia presented the practices of Chto Delat, an artist collective, which used unique collaborative performance tactics in order to further social and political change. Charles Esche, the moderator of day one, contextualized the topic by focusing on the exhibition as the point crystallization and dissemination of canonic ideas, using the term “when attitudes become form”. He provided examples of historical exhibitions that contribute the basis for our current interpretation of art juxtaposed with the rhetoric that we can use the exhibition format as a means of interacting with broader history.

After these initial case studies, participants divided into two groups and discussed exhibitions that they felt were or will soon be historically important. After deciding upon two exhibitions to present to the conference, the groups came together, presented the studies, and examined their challenges in terms of marginality and reasons for canonization.

The next day of the workshop was led by Galit Eilat, who presented her eight-month curatorial project, Liminal Spaces, which aimed at challenging the dynamics of occupation of Palestinian territory along the Israeli border. This was actively developed through a series of discussions, meetings, research, and site-specific work, using art as a means of navigating the challenges of freedom, deprivation, and mobility. After this, Nia Roberts led a discussion about Whales as a marginal entity intern of the 2011 Venice Biennial. Sequentially, Bori Szalai presented The Újlak group and the Little Warsaw in the context of post-1989 Hungary, providing a further illustration of tactics within peripheral space. After this, participants presented potential curatorial projects and the group discussed the various challenges and weak points within the strategic planning.

The last day, June 17th, focused on the presentation of ICW 2011 publication, written by ICW 2011 members including major contributions by Jerlyn Jareunpoon. Other authors, Francesco Scasciamacchia and Viviana Checchia, shared the text, which was followed by a discussion for the formalization of its outcome. This was a time in which to discuss the future direction of vessel and its curatorial methods. How can we formalize ICW for next year? Topics included private versus public forums, a combination of horizontal and vertical formats, and distribution of research topics among participants.

The workshop served as a platform for discussion and experimentation, a starting point for education, discussion, but most importantly, future collaboration.

This announcement was published on 01/06/12