Q&A with Mona Chalabi on her first solo exhibition, 'Photographs by Numbers' ǀ June 2013


CAF: Congratulations on your first exhibition. What was the process was like beforehand, what was it like to get it going. Were you nervous this was your first one?
MC: Well, it was a little bit difficult…basically I’d gone to Iraq and taken lots of pictures, I came back here and pitched an idea for an exhibition called ‘El-Qafas’ (The Cage). I originally wanted to explore the divide between women in the private space, and men in the public space. I felt that that wasn’t going to have the impact I wanted and retrospectively it was totally right for me to have changed direction. In the time in between, the Arab British Centre had agreed to me doing an exhibition, which was pushed back to March and (in that time) I started working at the Guardian on their data blog and got really fascinated in the world of info graphics and decided to incorporate it into photography. That kind of answers a little bit of how it came to be. Were you asking if I enjoyed it?

CAF: Yes, were you ever nervous about it?
MC:  I was worried (laughs) because this isn’t what I technically do. As it was Iraq, it gave me a bit of a platform and made me more comfortable to speak about it: addressing social and political issues I know about. But to stand there and represent myself as an artist I felt extremely uncomfortable with because I am not an artist and I’m not even really comfortable saying I’m a photographer because I don’t think I have the experience or necessarily even the skills to describe myself as that. But the whole point of it was saying that art had to play a role in me achieving this, so I had to use art even though I wouldn’t use that as one of my professional titles. So it’s really, really nerve racking and something I really struggled with. Again, the Arab British Centre were very supportive, they said it was okay to not describe myself as an artist and if other people call you an artist… it doesn’t make you somehow, fraudulent or lacking in integrity.

CAF: How do you feel about it now? What has the response been like?
MC: The response has been really positive but as I’m quite a sceptical and self-critical person, I’m trying to use this time to digest. I think the event would have been a success for me if people who didn’t necessarily have an interest in Iraq but were interested in the idea of combining numbers and photographs, left learning something about Iraq. That's the whole point of art; to give you access to something you necessarily wouldn't engage with. I think as a method that worked and as a method that really engaged people. So, the logical next step would be to think about other issues that could really benefit from this method of combining photos and data.

CAF: I was quite impressed because at the moment there is a struggle to promote art within the Middle Eastern region, a lot of people don’t see it as important as a science based or mathematical subject and you bring the art discipline and the statistics discipline together and make them equal, which is very interesting as you’re bringing it all into one form….
MC: Yeah, and I think part of that, especially for you guys, art is kind of denigrated and that science is exalted but the reason why I brought it down to a level playing field wasn’t necessarily by saying that art is far more fantastic than you think it is because some of the questions that we put towards art are perfectly legitimate, like to say what this person has done, what’s the consequence of that?  Are they legitimate? But actually those same questions also need to be applied to the sciences, “…Why did this person choose that data etc?” and I think that’s the way I gave them more of a level playing field by saying that data and statistics isn’t all that it's cracked up to be.

CAF: We all know statistics miss out on bits of information. Statistics are just black and white and has no feeling to it. I think the image projects that feeling and it gives that cohesive image.  It projects something that is reality and we were really interested in that. What made you use the statistics that you did?
MC: Well, I also have a background in international development and I’ve worked for an international NGO before as a monitoring and evaluations consultant on Iraq. As a monitoring and evaluations consultant you’re trying to understand needs in a country and you’re trying to understand how you can best meet them. When you're understanding needs, you are looking at things like housing, access to water and electricity. I tried to take those keys things that are genuinely critical in shaping everyday life experiences, whether or not you can actually get access to water and electricity, but also temper them - for example 60% of home-owners say that security is a real problem for them, but that is only in Baghdad and actually if you go to another region it’s only 2%. So, as I just said, that infographic you saw was just of Baghdad and if you don’t read the word Baghdad properly someone could walk away and think that was Iraq. There is still the same danger of the images I presented in that if someone looks at it and walks away with a different understanding. But art is about interpretation anyway and statistics are about interpretation, you just have to kind of give up at a certain point.

CAF: You say that the exhibition explores the narratives of progress using photos from Iraq.  What do you see in terms of progress in education in Iraq and the particular places you took the photographs from?
MC: You saw the one of the info graphics which is specifically about education, the one with the little boy. I think education is a really fascinating story in Iraq maybe more than any other Middle Eastern country. I don’t see any other country that has experienced the same kind of success then a rapid turn around like you see in Iraq. Literacy rates in Iraq were virtually 100%, school enrollment was 100% in the 70s and 80s because of quite draconian laws… not attending school being punishable by prison etc. But that’s a success, a positive indicator and you would have thought that literacy rates would be difficult to turn around once you have an educated population - parents are able to educate their children. One of the other aspects that fascinates me and this goes back to the exhibition, is the difference in education between men and women, so again, quite dissimilar to some Arab countries, not all… I saw so many women like housewives and mums with children who weren't working. It took me a while to actually venture to ask ‘did you ever go and seek an education?’. The response shocked me. One answer was a bemused ‘yes I did, I used to work as a nuclear physicists before I had kids’. So many of these women are extremely well educated. And it’s still seen as an asset. Men would rather, not all obviously, be with a women who has attended a good university, they see it as a positive thing. But so few of them use it and for me that’s the most shocking thing as there is this entire workforce that has so much to give to the country that’s not being properly used. Also, on a personal level my mum was taken out of school and had to catch up on 7 years of absence in 1 year. She was absolutely determined that not only was she going to get educated but she was going to use it. Seeing how her fate has been shaped by that determination has had a big influence on me.

CAF: There seems to be a need for some sort of deep-seated cultural change for things to happen. Do you think that art and the creative energy that it provokes can help to create that cultural change?
MC: Yeah, I think it could. I also think it has to take place in a certain way to have that ignition effect. People don’t really meet in public spaces in the same way as they do here. People don’t really go to the theatre to see a play or a concert. If you go to a café or a shopping centre, you’re in your group and are engaged with the same people. But the idea of everyone having the same focal point and observing the same thing as you do when you watch a film or see an exhibition and being able to step away from it and have a discussion or dialogue around it, is often absent.

CAF: So, bringing communities together in some sort of workshop or hub?
MC: Like a gallery. Just bringing them to a gallery so that they can have some sort of discussion afterwards. When I think about the opening here at the Arab British Centre... to have done that in Iraq, would have, I don’t know… I would like to go back and give it a go. Who knows!
CAF: Would you ever take this exhibition to Iraq?
MC: I think it’s important that I do, even though I’m being really honest and putting my hands up saying that I know these development statistics aren’t perfect, for me to say they aren’t perfect isn’t the same thing as giving them to Iraqis and saying ‘what’s wrong with them in your eyes’, for Iraqis to be able to say that the ministry gave these statistics.
CAF: Yes I agree, it would be exciting if you did manage to take it over.
MC: …but someone was saying there are three galleries left in Baghdad. So there is not much left there. 

CAF: So in one particular photo, ‘Patience’, there is the repetition of a single image. What is the story behind this?
MC: The image itself is a lawyer on the streets of Iraq, so the image itself is quite powerful as it's divorced from the general image we have of a lawyer - he’s sitting outside under an umbrella. The statistics come from a series of data published by the World Bank called the ‘Doing Business Index' for foreign companies seeking to establish themselves there and looking at the feasibility. It might seem quite bizarre to people who are not involved in business, for example, how long does it typically take to secure a warehouse and how long does it take to enforce a contract etc. So, it’s actually important and symptomatic of aspects of daily life in Iraq. Because they are so bureaucratic and frustrating trying to do anything, whether it’s changing a deed in a house or whatever. Just spending days upon days in ministry buildings and again that exists elsewhere in the Middle East… it’s part of the trauma, part of the bureaucracy you have to endure. So I wanted to go for such a simple info graphic that’s going to powerfully convey that. The implication of what that repetition is actually saying: in Iraq, 51 is the typical number of times you undergo a procedure for a contract. So the implication of that repetition is saying you have to do this 51 times. Every image here represents what you actually have to go through. On the other side, every single photo is supposed to show some kind of limitation of data and in that particular image the limitation is 51. That’s a really rough average. So, whether it’s three if you know the right person or it’s hundred because you don’t. It totally depends on your place in the Iraqi society.

Bureaucracy (close up)

CAF: I found that when I travelled to Africa, I found that everything takes twice as long because of the bureaucracy.
MC: …and you never know when a no means no, or yes genuinely means yes, and when you have to let something go, or do you keep fighting for it, am I charming this person? Or are they being rude?

CAF: The proceeds from your exhibition will be donated to the Alfanar charity you are involved with. Can you tell us more about Alfanar and what kind of work they do?
MC: I think it’s kind of interesting for your work because they run workshops to engage young people as well. I went to one of them hoping to hear about their particular model of development in the Arab region, and since then, I’ve been working for them because I have such a huge respect for their model of development. The whole point of every project Alfanar invests in is that at some point they have to stop investing and the (projects) have to be able to run by themselves. And that’s something that’s so frustrating with my experience working in the NGO sector. That kind of sense that we’re here to eliminate the need for ourselves…we have to pull out at some point. It’s lost because people are so passionate about their jobs and they just want to carry on doing it and they and they lose sight of that and Alfanar never has and that’s one of the reasons I really like them.

CAF: Do you think you will do another exhibition?
MC: I hope so. 

CAF: Let us know when you do that…


Mona Chalabi is a development consultant. Mona previously worked as a monitoring and evaluation consultant at the International Organisation for Migration's Iraq office and as a corruption researcher at Transparency International. She is currently a contributor to the Guardian's data blog, Economics Editor of New Middle East Studies as well as an Adviser at Alfanar.

All images courtesy of the artist.

Credits: The Arab British Centre
Interview conducted by Kiran Sahib on behalf of Caspian Arts Foundation
Edited by Nina Mahdavi

© All rights reserved. 

Exclusive Interview with Youssef Nabil | May, 2013

(Photo credit: Ralph Gibson)

CAF: What is it about the retro glamour of Egyptian cinema that inspires you?
YN: Let’s not use the word glamour because it has different connotations. It’s actually a very personal story with the idea of the life and cinema that was in my country I grew up watching in old films but that is no longer there. I felt that when I watched these films as a kid (in the 70s and 80s), I was watching a life that was no longer exactly what we were even living back then and now it’s something else. Everything is digital and high definition – it’s a different world. I love how people were presented at that time. Everything was beautiful, and people were more romantic. It felt that people were nicer before and now the relationship between us is suddenly about something else. So, it’s about the world I grew up watching, basically, and the Egypt that I loved.The love of the cinema led me to do my own photography and the idea of the world that existed but not there now. It’s the whole idea of transformation and even now with what happened after the revolution (in Egypt), you just have to always make your peace with the past, that this is not about what you knew and you just have to let it go.

CAF: You’re focusing on a nostalgia…
YN: Well, also, it’s not about nostalgia (Laughs). It’s actually about the fact that the less we have of all this technology, the more human we are. I know that and I miss that and I think this shows in my work as I speak about my world and I invite people to be a part of that. It’s no longer exactly what Egypt is about; it’s about the Mediterranean, the Egypt I loved, my idea of my country and my relationship to all of that… it’s very personal because again it was from the cinema that I wanted to do my own photography and again it is because of cinema that I decided to paint my black & white photographs to make them look like old films, to keep this old character throughout the work. 

CAF: Can we talk about your pictures and the hand tinting. It sounds like quite a precarious thing and it takes a long time. I was just really impressed by the detail and work that goes into it. How did working with David Lachapelle and Mario Testino, and their western techniques, influence your work?
YN: I started doing my technique of painting on photography before I worked with Mario and David. So this comes from Egypt, the cinema and the rest of it. Then everything came by chance. I was in Egypt on a shoot in a hotel when I met David. He saw me taking pictures and we started chatting. He said he was a photographer too and could I help him while he was in Egypt as he didn’t know anyone; I knew everyone and told him I could help him for free. We became friends and worked together for a week and then I went to New York and continued working with him until 1993. So, it was pure chance. Even with Mario, it was just meant to be. I think both of them felt that as a young photographer, I was 19 or 20, I was serious about what I was doing, so we worked together. We had very different styles and very different techniques. They both inspired me in different ways. It was also the first time for me to be in real studios in Paris and New York with photographers who were very professional. Everything was very organised. To see photography from that level with them helped me in so many ways. Just from being there and watching how a real studio in Paris or New York would function. As I didn’t study photography and I didn’t go to art school - photography in Egypt wasn’t very much appreciated at that time. So, I was doing something that didn’t exactly exist in Egypt... It was a great learning experience.

The Last Dance #1, (Denver 2012)
CAF: Just spinning off on the subject of education. Caspian Arts Foundation is an organisation that supports education in the arts. Do you feel that it’s important for students wanting to pursue a career in the arts to have some sort of mentor to help them out because an education, in terms of getting a degree, is not enough? 
YN: I think that there is no one version of the truth, that you have to have a mentor or you have to go to an art school. We have so many examples of great artists who have never been to art schools and also great artists who did go to art school but did the opposite in real life. To have a mentor is probably the oldest way to be an artist. You see that in Italy during the Renaissance, an artist would work in the atelier of another artist and he himself became an artist after and now they are all considered masters. I always wanted to study…you know, this is the thing. I was never actually accepted into any of the art schools in Egypt. I think when you study, the best thing about it is not exactly the study itself because you can read this in books after and you can do it in your practice - but it’s about being somewhere with people like you, who have the same goal to study art and be in touch with books about art and professors who talk to you about art, to be there with a group of people who all want to do the same thing and who love art. 
That is what I missed actually. But I tried to do that differently and life brought it to me also, because I met David by chance and I could have met anyone else. I didn’t know anything about his work. So, it was a sign from life that I was on the right track. Again, I think you should do the best with what life gives you. We shouldn’t say: ‘ok, you should have a mentor now’you can’t calculate things that way. 

CAF: Yes, otherwise you will never be happy if you constantly try to find something. It is important to be satisfied at some stage…  
YN: Yes, I see that with friends of mine, like Tracey Emin. She destroyed all her art works she did in her earlier years at art school and now she is doing something else. Her drawings have nothing to do with what she learned from art school and now it became a style in itself.  So, you have so many examples like that. I’ve had so many conversations with friends who had attended art schools and now they’re doing completely different works – there is no one rule to follow. 

CAF: Thanks for that. That’s very insightful and I’m sure our readers, especially the students and aspiring artists, will find that very useful. You tell your story through self-portraits, but why do you choose not to engage with the lens properly? Why do you never directly look at the camera?
YN: The self-portraits speak about different stories and probably are the most personal body of works for me. I speak about my relationship to my country, to life, the existence to my life and the fact that even in Egypt I always felt like I will leave one day, I’m going to go one day. I am there as a visitor and this is not exactly my place. When I left for Paris, I stayed there for three years and it was the same. Since then it’s the same story everywhere I go, that I don’t think we really belong here. I think that everywhere I go I will be a visitor. I think the whole relationship with life is the same – I’m here for a certain time and then I’m going to go, we are all going to go. So, the self-portraits speak about death and it’s about being here for a short period of time and then leaving. It was a sad discovery for me when I was a kid that everyone would leave one day. So, everything you learn, everything you got used to and everything you have is not going to be there forever. You are going to leave and you are leaving. It wasn’t an easy discovery. When I left Egypt and moved to Europe, I started doing more self-portraits and I speak about these subjects, the fact that I feel like a visitor. I speak about life and death and I don’t have to look at the camera because it could be about anyone else. I don’t see myself, I see humankind. I see the story of all of us.

CAF: Do you think you will ever digress from your current styles of black and white film and hand painting? Are you quite solid that this is your mark and this is how you want to be remembered in terms of your photography?
YN: I really enjoy combining both painting and photography. This is something I discovered as I began doing only black and white photographs, and then I had this need to see my work in colour. I never wanted to use a colour film or a digital camera. I love the fact that I can see them as a painting, but it is also photography, but it is not exactly photography or only photography but it is also a painting. They remind me of the movies that I loved, Egypt and the life, the story I tell about this period of time that I related to. If you look at the career of Louise Bourgeois who lived almost 100 years and you see the works she did in her early years… she changed her style so many times. So again, I don’t want to feel that this is it. I did a video recently and now I am working on my second video. This is a different medium and it’s in colour. Again, I try to make the colour similar to my palette when I paint… so, the blue is my blue and the red is my red etc. I try to connect them all to my family and my inspiration to what I love in terms of colour and in terms of sensitivity and you can tell that (it is my work) when you see the video in its colour – they look like my painted photography. 

 Catherine Deneuve (Paris, 2010)                Alicia Keys (New York, 2010) 

CAF: It is very important for an artist to do what he thinks is right and what he likes. Do you think it is important for an aspiring artist to develop his/her own personal style? 
YN: Yes, but I think the word ‘style’ is not something you exactly choose; It has to come from within. You cannot just say ‘Ok, I am going to have a style now,’ you don’t decide! You make the decision of what you like and what you don’t like, but it shouldn’t come like a decision. I think, again, if you look at someone like Nan Goldin who’s a friend and someone I love. When she started taking pictures, she didn’t even think about exhibiting it one day. She was just shooting her friends with the light that existed in the room and then this light became the Nan Goldin style, it was just her trademark of light. You know this is hers. I can give hundreds of examples like that. It’s the same with me. I don’t decide. I would say you should be truthful to what you like and what you love, and don’t listen to rules, because rules will only make you limited in your thinking and in what you want to do. Just be free as much as you want, and if you are doing photography, keep doing photography. If you are drawing, keep on drawing. After that, you sort of also choose what you want to show from all that you did.  Little by little, you will develop a certain eye, a like and a love for what you will call, as you said, “style”. But it is not exactly a decision that you take.

CAF: In terms of everything becoming very digitised and I know you are opposed to the whole technological innovation. How do you see artists progressing in this digital age? Is it positive that we have more things to experiment with?
YN: It is very tempting when you see machines are becoming High-Definition and better than analogue photography, along with all the details etc. I am not interested in all of that, and I don't want to think too much of technology, this is not what it’s about. It’s not about the best camera, it’s not about the HD and the digitisation. 
David Hockney did a whole exhibition with an iPad.  Again, you can tell this is a David Hockney, and I don’t care if it is an iPad. It’s never about this… But he succeeded in saying what he wanted to say in this action with an iPad, but it could be anything. It could be a mobile phone, and it became an important piece, or a Polaroid. It could be anything. I don’t think that’s an indication. I don’t listen to this. The fact is that when it comes to art, it’s not about that at all.

CAF: ….So, essentially, art is art regardless of technology. 
YN: Exactly…

CAF: Final question, what is your next plan? What projects will you be focusing on?
YN: Well, I have a book that’s coming out in Europe… it will be out in London in July this year. It’s published by Flammarion, with conversations with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Marina Abramovic. The book is about my work over the past 20 years. It took three years of my life to make because I also wanted to include early works that no one has seen and wanted to finish the work before the book came out. I am now also working on my second video. It’s very exciting as again, it’s a different medium. I love the fact that people that I used to photograph are moving now and I see my images are moving. For me, it’s something I discovered I really enjoy as well. I also have group exhibitions in Vancouver, Florence, Paris and Brussels. I have one in London at the Victoria & Albert Museum. It’s a group show, Light from the Middle East, about contemporary photography from the Middle East.

Transformation #1, Marina Abramović (New York, 2011)


Youssef Nabil's solo exhibition, Time of Transformation, is currently on display at
The Third Line, Dubai, until 12 June. All images shown are courtesy of The Third Line and the artist. 

Interviewer: Kiran Sahib (Caspian Arts Foundation)
Edited by Nina Mahdavi & Youssef Nabil

© All rights reserved, Caspian Arts Foundation, 2013

Points of Departure, ICA 26 June - 21 July

Caspian Arts Foundation is delighted to announce its educational partnership in Delfina Foundation's Points of Departure, an exhibition that culminates a year of collaboration with ArtSchool Palestine, the British Council and the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA). Presented at the ICA, the exhibition will be among the highlights of the 2013 Shubbak Festival in London (26 June - 6 July).
Points of Departure begins as a set of thoughtful explorations into the phenomena of liminality. A condition in which one's sense of identity is diffused, liminality leads not only to states of dislocation and disorientation, but also to new perspectives. From this starting point, all the exhibiting artists undertook research-orientated projects in the UK and Palestine, seeking to make meaning, and create new narratives, in response to urgent contemporary questions around nationalism and identity, history and place.
Points of Departure presents new commissions by Palestinian artist and CAF's first scholarship recipient Bisan Abu-Eiseh, as well as Jumana Emil Abboud, Bashar Alhroub, and UK artists Jeremy Hutchinson and Olivia Plender - all of whom undertook eight-week residencies in London and Ramallah respectively. In relation to themes raised by the project and the works produced, the exhibition also features a seminal work by Ramallah-based artists Basel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rahme. The exhibition has been curated by Rebecca Heald with the support of Mirna Bamieh.
Caspian Arts Foundation supports the extensive public programme of talks and events around Points of Departure. Visit www.ica.org.uk to see the full list & schedule. 

The exhibition is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, the Czech Centre and Sula Wines.

Open Call: 2013 Curatorial Residencies and International Curatorial Workshop

Vessel is a non-profit platform for the development of a critical discourse related to the current cultural, social, economic and political issues through the lens of contemporary art. 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, specifically in relation to Apulia and its surrounding areas such as the Mediterranean, Central Europe and Eastern Europe. Additionally, we are eager to investigate the social imagination : how its concrete products can articulate strategies of critical resistance against the current dominant neo-liberal order. Our methodology strives 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 and create a multi-centered body of knowledge that can emphasize the limits and criticality of working unilaterally (or uniquely).
Vessel is now launching open calls for its summer 2013 agenda. The focus of 2013 consists of: vessel’s participation in the 2 year Materiality project through the creation of a web-based radio that focuses on interdisciplinary cultural practitioners coming from the Apulia and the surrounding Mediterranean area, a series of curatorial residencies that allows international curators to explore their practice through the lens of the local territory and an international curatorial workshop, which allows curators from all over the world to convene in Bari and use the territory as a frame for curatorial issues, innovations and discussions. The goal of this program is to utilize a participative approach in order to create connections that inform context-specific social practice.

ICW 2013 – International Curatorial Workshop

Vessel is looking for applicants for its 3rd annual International Curatorial Workshop (3rd – 5th, June 2013). The Course will be composed of fifteen young curators from around the world. They will be offered the opportunity to work with curators and art practitioners of international reputation who have participated in projects focusing on the various forms, analysis and creation of social art practices.
ICW 2013 will be tutored by ConsonniLeone ContiniCurandi KatzMarco Degaetano – XScapeFernando Garcia DoryCarolina RitoWochen KlausurViviana ChecchiaAnna SantomauroFrancesco ScasciamacchiaCharles EscheIlaria Gianni, Viktor Misiano and Marco Petroni together with other members of vessel’s committee.
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 social practice and asked to join work groups chaired by members of the organizing team. The objectives of the curatorial course are:
- To articulate a consistent collective reflection on the contemporary role of the socially engaged art practices 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
Day one and day two will consist of presentations of case studies. Day three will be an open format in which participants can discuss and get advice regarding current works/projects in progress.
The focus of the workshop is socially engaged practice and its various permutations at this point in contemporary society. We are interested in practitioners that believe in socially engaged practice as a tool to support an alternate system of labor and production; i.e. long-term engagement with marginal populations and territories rather than a limited-duration exhibition. We favor projects that apply social engagement as a means of investigating public opinion and need.
Our particular geographical area is the region of Apulia in connection with our neighbors in the Balkan and Mediterranean areas. Thus, the type of projects we seek use geographically specific information to confront political, social and cultural identity of specific populations that can be connected and applied on a wider scale.
To practically analyze this phenomenon, we will use case studies of examples of regional social practice that respond to these urgencies.
Additionally, each participant will be required to bring their own case study that connects to the instances of social practice. This can include the work of people, collectives or spaces.
How to Apply to ICW 2013:
The participation in the International Curatorial Workshop is subject to a payment of 350 €. The amount will cover all the expenses for meals and residency including a single-bed hotel room and 2013 vessel’s membership. Selected applicants will be responsible for travel from their place of residence to Vessel as well as the return trip. The workshop itself is offered free of charge.
The material sent for the application will not be returned.
According to regulation of the workshop, personal data of the applicants is exclusively used for selection procedures and will not communicated to others.
Interested applicants of any nationality may apply. No study certificate and academic degree required. The course will be delivered in English: for this reason at least an intermediate level of English is required. The screen committee for selecting applicants consists of Viviana Checchia, Anna Santomauro and Francesco Scasciamacchia, curators of Vessel. The application form must be sent to selezionivessel@gmail.com by 21st April, 2013.
The applications must include:
1. Application form
Last Name:

Date of birth:

Place of birth:



Postal address:



List of studies/work experiences:
(Please attach your detailed resume to this form.)
2. A copy of the most relevant published texts and reports of realized curatorial projects.
3. A motivational statement illustrating the applicant’s interests and explaining the reason for the application (max. 5.000 characters)
4. A short statement describing the case study that would be brought to the workshop (max 1,000 characters)

Residency Program 2013

We are looking for curators to participate in a three-week residency program, between June and September (to be arranged with vessel team). The residency is centered in Bari, Italy and additionally travels to the various on-site locations of vessel’s affiliated projects. Candidates should be interested in a process-driven, multidisciplinary-focused methodology, which will give them the opportunity to investigate social practice. Specifically, curators will to interact with artists, curators and cultural operators similarly exploring these topics in the Apulia Region.
Curators will be directly involved in some of the regional projects that vessel already regularly contributes to. Contribution to these projects will be a central part of the residency in order to see (experience) methods of cultural operation in the territory, but also to inspire a fruitful exchange of methods and strategies. These aforementioned projects combine the tools of artistic projects in order to engage with reality. Art is not the final point, but rather one of the multifaceted tools that can help speak about regional topics that are not being brought to light nationally.
Current regional projects:
*Xscape, an architectural collective immersed in their BIR (Borghi in Rete) Project. The BIR project explores fascist period construction from the 1900s and its ramifications on the community currently squatting in these abandoned structures. Physical exploration of the land and process-based brainstorming are utilized with cultural operators to construct a BIR Art Map, i.e. a map consisting of potential solutions for the territory.
More information: http://www.vesselartproject.org/2011/07/18/bir-can-we-give-a-new-identity-to-this-land/
*Nico Angiuli is a local artist that uses dance as a research tool to investigate regional agricultural conditions.
More information: http://www.vesselartproject.org/2011/04/25/la-danza-degli-attrezzi/
Other opportunities within the residency include access to vessel’s artist network, project incubator and international network of collaborators. They get access to meet with owners and contributors to local galleries, art projects and cultural initiatives.
Beyond connecting with cultural and artistic initiatives, a major part of the residency involves interaction with the physical territory itself. This is a unique experience that takes place within small villages and rural settings. We are looking for practitioners who will not only enjoy these conditions, but thrive from this experience as an impetus for thinking about social practice. We want to emphasize that this region is not a major center for contemporary art. Rather, by focusing the residency in this area, curators get the chance to engage with territorial issues in a non-traditional manner. It is for those who don’t see art as a structured system, but rather as a tool for discovery.
All of the mentioned activities underline the fact that this will be a practice concerned residency. We are looking for curators that seek to explore and enhance social practice through interaction as a means of research.
The residency opportunity is free of charge. Accommodation, tools and places to work are included, although additional expenses such as travel must come from your personal funds.
We will be willing to support you for any further research fund especially if related with agency/ organisation. We had previous experience with (Goethe Institute, Fondazione Roberto Cimetta, Istituto culturale Romeno and ECF – Step Beyond).
Interested candidates must send in a CV to selezionivessel@gmail.com as well as a proposal explaining what they would specifically like to do with the residency and how it connects to their practice by 21st April, 2013.