vessel is a platform for the development of a critical discourse related to current cultural, social, economic and political issues. Defining our practice as politicized, we approach our themes of interest by using the tools that art and culture offer. We are interested in exploring socially engaged practices in relation to their context of emergence, to their geographies and psychogeographies, to their imbrication into fixed political ideologies; we are also eager to investigate how social imagination could be enhanced and how its concrete products could articulate strategies of critical resistance against the current dominant neo-liberal order. In order to develop our practice we will adopt a methodology that will make an effort to incorporate a broad range of disciplines such as geography, political science, anthropology and sociology. Through this strategy we aim to facilitate interaction and exchange between different subjects envisioning the creation of a multi-centered body of knowledge that can put emphasis on the limits and criticality of working unilaterally (or uniquely) in the contemporary scenario.
Collectively we, as a curatorial board, decided that the focus of vessel for the next two years will be on: geopolitics and socially engaged practice. For the former our approach will be to think about the objectivity of geographical borders as defined by the imperative of maps in order to reshape also subjectively, through the means of different disciplines, the historical fixed parameters that created a political ideology or better a shared collective imagery related to specific geographical area. vessel, will start to think about the geographical position of Bari, the place where the institution is operating and where it is based, in order to reconsider the common sense to look at the map of the South of Italy in the ledge of South-North (a vertical consideration) in favor of a more horizontal way of thinking driving towards the East Side of the map (the Balkans) and in a more expanded way to the Mediterranean area. This will reverse the notion of West-East towards the less established category of South-East.
This process of investigation will open up a series of important issues related to the History of the Region and will also generate alternative ways of thinking in terms of the current socio-economic, political and cultural structure of the globe.
For the latter-socially engaged practices-even though we are aware of the massive attention devoted to them in the contemporary art world and the problems it arises – our contribution to the knowledge will be toward three directions: 1) context-specificity: the focus of investigation and action will remain local (The Region of Puglia); 2) the theoretical approach: will consist of the consideration of the balance between the heteronomy (the social) and the authonomy (the aesthetic) of the art rather than the production of a literal effective outcome whose product will run the risk to represent the same dynamics operating in the local context. We will consider socially engaged practice as the space in which a critique towards those logics can happen, and further as the place in which it would be possible to open up a space for ‘social imagination’; 3) space of exploration: that will test the limits and the gaps between the symbolic outcome they can produce and the actual or concrete impact they can put forward.
vessel is aware that a multi-layered conceptual approach, as the one described above, will require also the necessity to incorporate different media and strategies that will suit, case by case, the issues on investigation and will facilitate a development of a more imaginative aesthetic layer in which a series of possible alternatives can be tested.
Any solution, or definitive outcome will not be created through socially-engaged practices and politicized art, but what interests us, is to enlarge through their means the even more limited space for ‘questioning’.