vessel is pleased to announce the first Giant Step Symposium will be held Tuesday through Thursday, June 12-14 in Bari (Italy) at the Cineporto (Padiglione 180, Fiera del Levante), Lungomare Starita 1.

Facilitators: ArtLeaks, Dave Beech, The Bureau of Melodramatic Research, Galit Eilat, Charles Esche, Viktor Misiano, Dan Perjovschi, Nia Roberts, Francesco Scasciamacchia.

Speakers: Antonia Alampi, Rebecca Birch & Rose Lejeune, Adeola Enigbokan, Tom Estes, Jaime Marie Davis, Carmen Ferreyra, Florin Flueras, Simone Frangi, Fort-Da. Platform für politische Ästetik (Philipp Sack & Carolin Knebel), Charlie Fox, Henna-Riikka Halonen, Chelsea Haines, Samantha Jones, Sohrab Mohebbi, Veda Popovici, Victoria Preston, Nada Prlja, Claire Louise Staunton, Kuba Szreder, Adnan Yildiz, James Voorhies, Patrick Waldo.

The list of speakers will be updated in the coming days, we will also publish biographies and abstracts of their presentations.


The context in which Giant Step 1: Enter the Artworld? Marginal Establishments, Cooptation and Resistance takes place is shaped by the city of Bari and the region of Apulia, Italy.

Both have a very strong and well-defined identity connected with their history, traditions and geographic position. They are currently undergoing a process of deep transformation in the contemporary art infrastructure and consequently can be seen as a microcosmic example for the tensions between the sociocultural specificity of “marginal” places and the dominant ethos of contemporary art. In the last two decades, the latter has been increasingly shaped by the powerful neo-liberal economic order and inherited its contradictions and paradoxes. On the one hand, it gave birth to a globalised space for self-realisation, circulation and freedom, while on the other hand it reinforced rigid protocols, norms and principles of security and public control, which increasingly purged possibilities of collective and public resistance.

We acknowledge that, when addressing the process of co-opting marginal geographic areas into the art world, a literal recuperation by contemporary artists of the anti-institutional, queer, anti-war artistic activism of the 60s and the 70s cannot produce a critique of the paradoxical and multifaceted ethos of the contemporary era. A pure critique, one that is confrontational and oppositional, is not effective anymore: there is a need to reframe the notion of critique. We ask, therefore, which tactics can be adopted by artists, curators and critics in order to simultaneously embrace and disclose the dichotomies operating in the global era? How is it possible to effect change rather than imposing internationally recognised models of criticism and protest? And given that the art field is structurally articulated by processes of institutionalisation, how is it possible to re-imagine the notion of the institution, since our minds and bodies are the places in which the institutionalisation imposes its pervasive necessity to produce economic values? How is it possible to configure the institution as a place of public encounter where citizens can deploy their desire to ‘react’ or  ‘revolt’?

Our intention is to construct a forum in which different interests and positions are represented. We propose a sustained reflection about the potential of a rhizomatic realm articulated by transversal alliances of cultural and artistic energies stemming from geographical margins.


download the Registration Form

Partners: European Cultural Foundation, Van Abbemuseum, Galeria Labirynt, MOSTYN | Wales, vessel, Politicized Practice Research Group (Loughborough University)

With the support of The Romanian Institute for Culture and Humanistic Research of Venice

Giant Step 1: Enter the Artworld? Marginal Establishments, Cooptation and Resistance

12 – 14 June 2012

Cineporto di Bari (Padiglione 180, Fiera del Levante)
Lungomare Starita 1
70132 Bari (Italy)

How to reach the Cineporto:
From Piazza Moro (the square in front of the railway station in Bari) take one of this bus until the bus stop “Lungomare Starita”: Number 2/ direction Piscine Comunali (Via di Maratona), Number 21 direction Piscine Comunali, Number 22 direction Piscine Comunali, Number 53 direction Quartiere San Paolo (Via De Blasi)