From July 9th to the 13th, 2011, vessel partnered with the Bari organization, XScape, to provide insight into their project BIR (Borghi in Rete). In the Foggia region, they visited Borgo Segezia, Borgo Cervaro, Borgo Incoronata, Borgo Mezzanone, Giardinetto, Borgo Tavernola, Duanera La Rocca and Borgo San Giusto.

The project centers on the fascist period construction of urban areas during the early 1900s in Italy. The land was divided into segments in order to allow for a drainage system to address the detriment of flooding on agriculture. Thus, “borgate” were created; territory was equally portioned to include a school, church, market and public offices, in order to avoid daily commute to main cities. For a short period of time this system was successful, but it soon failed after the collapse of fascism in Italy. The indigenous Apuglian people did not like the isolation that the borgate fostered and missed the village interaction, which resulted in the abandonment of the “podere”. Currently, these structures are in the process of decay; ruins are interspersed throughout the countryside.

Vessel was guided throughout these Borgate in order to experience this phenomenon in a firsthand manner. These visits not only served to provide background information, but also operated as a dynamic platform to interact with local people. The main aim of BIR is “Can we give a new identity to this land?” The point of the exploration was not to provide a concrete solution, but rather to create a “net” consisting of a variety of potentialities. The physical tour served as base of knowledge in order to stimulate ideas on fostering a fluid, yet contemporary identity for the territory.

There is an overriding belief in sustainable growth utilizing and recognizing the various identities present in the territory. XScape and vessel participated in collaborative discussion, sharing ideas on the construction of a “BIR art map”, an experimental layout in which suburbia is not relative to specific, tangible location.

The process of redefining the territory is a series of constantly evolving ideas, which relates to the aims of vessel for process-based artistic method. The BIR project allows for this method to be utilized in order to advocate social and political improvement. In essence, the project can be seen as a parallel to vessel’s idea of discovering new ideas to redefine outdated East and West relations; it focuses on reconfiguring a territory currently steeped in relics and notions of the past.


Rachel Pafe