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Babel Rebuilt

Image by Erica Petrillo

Since 2011, Video Sound Art has been supporting the birth of new artistic productions rooted in research journeys that start from historical archives or artistic residencies. The new works – with the support of expert craftspeople and scholars – have been presented to the public over the years in exhibition contexts that defy the normative expectations of such, with the intention of testing the adaptability of art within society: public schools, basements such as the former Diurno Venezia hotel, theatre halls, swimming pools, etc.

Thirteen years of experimentation, during which the winners of the Open Calls participated in the development of models of social sharing, revisiting public spaces, interacting with casual visitors or in the presence of some of the most prominent in the sector – artists, gallery owners, collectors and institutional representatives, both public and private.

On the occasion of the XIII edition of the Festival – a travelling and widespread edition that will branch out between the cities of Brescia, Milan and Bergamo – the call to artists, entitled BABEL REBUILT, will evolve from the research conducted by the Festival’s curatorial department on the ambiguous nature of language – an indispensable, yet imperfect tool of creation and communication.

Hand in hand with the 13th issue of the MacGuffin editorial project (“The Letter”), BABEL REBUILT strives to collectively build new forms of imagination, knowledge and resistance.
Inspired by the text “ أجنبية بلغة الكتابة / To Write in a Foreign Language” (2000) by Lebanese writer and artist Etel Adnan and the Aboriginal painting “Ngurrara II” (1997), the call to artists invites participants to experiment with the creative potential that resides in the gap, or slippage existing between different forms of language – the Arabic being painted, a painting becoming a legal document.

With which tools (linguistic or otherwise) can we embrace the complex facets of reality, without losing degrees of resolution, precision and accuracy? When language fails, what remains?

What is the relationship between language and reality? Can this relationship be hacked?

What happens when the Word is understood as a Sign? Can the voice give life to an architecture?

Can we sculpt with music, or dance with colour?

What new forms of synesthesia can be invented and materialised to
“repopulate the devastated desert of our imagination?” (I. Stengers, 2015)

Ngurrara artists producing Ngurrara Canvas II at Pirnini, Great Sandy Desert, Australia, May 1997.
Photo: K. Dayman (Ngurrara Artists and Mangkaja Arts Resource Agency)


The winning project of Babel Rebuilt is Let Fortune Accompany You authored by Angela Xu.
Selected by an international outstanding jury, the project stood out for its intimately biographical and delicately political qualities. 

Angela Xu, Let Fortune Accompany You, 2023

Discover the winning project

Let Fortune Accompany You centres around a collection of “rediscovered” fragments of text—reworked and rewritten— to explore the discordant relationships between second-generation migrants and their presumed “mother tongue”; the profound misunderstandings, the slips, the grey areas. The system of the Chinese language has been rediscovered and brought back as an artistic/design/study practice, through the rigorous nature of writing as a proof of language, as an agent of cultural structures in the form of personal micro-stories.

Angela recently graduated with a MA in Graphic Design at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp. Her practice spans across design, writing, drawing and performance.


The winner, supported by the curatorial and technical staff, will participate in a two-week artistic residency (18 – 30 September 2023) in collaboration with MO.CA – Centro per le Nuove Culture, a centre dedicated to contemporary languages located in the historic Palazzo Martinengo Colleoni in Malpaga, Brescia. Travel and accommodation expenses will be covered. The work will be presented to the public during the XIII edition of Video Sound Art in Brescia (10 – 19 November 2023).

Sala Conversazioni, MO.CA – Centro per le Nuove Culture, Via Moretto, 78, Brescia

The Festival’s budget will cover the production costs of the work (technical and installation materials) and any necessary costs required to ensure compliance with safety standards. The Festival staff will provide technical assistance, ensure communication of the project and will offer curatorial support in the planning (during the residency) and implementation phases (installation and exhibition of the project, during the Festival). In the selection phase, the economic and environmental sustainability of the projects will influence the decision. Proposals are recommended that take into account the feasibility of realisation within the duration of the residency (two weeks) and the available budget (5,000 euros in total, of which 1,000 will cover production expenses and 4,000 to support the production of the work and the aforementioned services). 

An artistic fee of 1,000 euros will be awarded for the winner of the Open Call. 


The projects will be assessed by a jury made up of representatives from the worlds of art and research, including museum operators, researchers, curators and artists.
Some members of the jury will also act as mentors, supporting the development of the project through a series of crits, organised by the Festival’s curatorial department, which will be held during the course of the residency. To these will be added further “studio visits” with operators from the art world.

Kirsten Algera
Creative director and curator of MacGuffin – The Life of Things
Writer, curator and design historian Kirsten Algera lives and works in Amsterdam. She is the founder and creative director of the editorial project MacGuffin, an award-winning magazine and platform in the design field.She writes in art magazines and teaches at numerous international design academies: the Utrecht University of the Arts (HKU), the Design Academy Eindhoven and the ECAL in Lausanne. At the same time, she curates artistic projects, exhibitions, installations, public programs and workshops in collaboration with institutions such as Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam, the Istanbul Design Biennial, the Guangzhou Triennial and Disarming Design from Palestine.

Delany Boutkan
Curator and researcher at Nieuwe Instituut di Rotterdam
Delany Boutkan is a writer, editor and curator and works as a researcher as part of the Nieuwe Instituut’s Research team. Here she has been coordinating the annual International Call for Fellows and several other collaborative research projects and public programs since 2019, such as Collecting Otherwise. Her current research interests engage with language as a (design) material in the practical, theoretical, and pedagogical realms of the design and architecture fields. Her latest programme Design Drafts is a growing writing and publishing network dedicated to investigating and drafting what it means to write about design today. Her work has been featured in publications by Metropolis M, MacGuffin magazine, Z33, Onomatopee Projects, PS Sandberg / Sandberg Instituut, Disegno Journal and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s Kunstlicht Journal. Between 2020 and 2022, Delany curated the lectures and debates programme ‘5th Floor Talks’ at Design Academy Eindhoven with the Masters in Social Design and Contextual Design. She received her Master degree in Design Curating & Writing at the Design Academy Eindhoven.

Barbara Casavecchia
Writer and curator
Barbara Casavecchia is a freelance writer, independent curator and educator based in Venice and Milan, where she teaches at the Brera and NABA art academies. She collaborates with prestigious publications including: Frieze, Art Agenda, Art Review, D/La Repubblica, Flash Art, Kaleidoscope, Mousse, Nero, South/documenta 14, Spike. In 2018 she curated the exhibition Susan Hiller. Social facts, at the OGR in Turin. Since 2021 she has directed The Current III “Mediterraneans: ‘Thus waves come in pairs’ (after Etel Adnan) for TBA21-Academy.

Ala Tannir
Architect and curator
Ala Tannir is an architect and curator from Beirut. She is the inaugural Curatorial Research Fellow at the Carnegie Museum of Art’s Heinz Architectural Center, and currently teaches at the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture. She was part of the curatorial team and Managing Editor of Publications for the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale (2021), and co-organized the XXII Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature (2019). Her upcoming project utilizes exhibition-making as a process to record and rehabilitate a 1930s coastal house in Beirut to transform it into a research and cultural platform. She holds a bachelor’s of architecture from the American University of Beirut, and a master’s in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Video Sound Art
Laura Lamonea, artistic director
Laura is a curator and artistic director. In 2010 she founded the Video Sound Art project, for which she has curated numerous exhibitions reflecting on the transformations of the installation language. In recent years she has curated: Gestus, an exhibition project commissioned by Palazzo Grassi – Punta della Dogana and realised at the Teatrino, Venice 2020/2021; The reflecting pool, Enrique Ramirez – Piscina Romano, Milano 2020; Moles – Biennale Manifesta 12 Collateral event, Palermo 2018; Mine, Ali Kazma, Ex Albergo Diurno Venezia – Milan 2018. In 2018 she worked for the Dutch International Biennal Manifesta 12 and in 2020 she curated the ArtAway project.

Erica Petrillo, Open Call coordinator
Erica Petrillo is a curator and researcher with a background in political philosophy and social sciences. She is currently based in Milan, where she collaborates with the interdisciplinary agency 2050+, whilst in parallel working on several independent projects. She has curated public programs and exhibitions for various cultural institutions, in Italy and beyond. These include the series of monthly R&D Salons at The Museum of Modern Art in New York; Broken Nature, the 22nd Triennale di Milano; Open, the Russian Pavilion at the 17th Architecture Biennale of Venice; Synthetic Cultures for the 10th International Architecture Biennale of Rotterdam; and Environmentalism Without Politics is Gardening at ADI Design Museum in Milan. Erica holds a BA in Politics, Sociology and Psychology (University of Cambridge, UK), a BA in Political Sciences and International Relations (Università degli Studi di Milano, IT), and a MA in Arts, Politics and Society (Maastricht University, NL).

Open Call 2023
Babel Rebuilt

Applications accepted
30 June – 10 August 2023

Announcement of winner
4 September 2023

Period of residence
18 – 30 September 2023

Public presentation
November 2023

Send your application to:

Open Call coordination
Erica Petrillo

From a research project by
Laura Lamonea

Read more about the research