8th edition of the competition for young artists

The call for the new edition of the Un’Opera per il Castello Competition has gone online today (18 December 2020), and is open to young artists between 21 and 40 years of age, for the selection of a site-specific artistic design conceived for the exterior spaces of Castel Sant’Elmo in Naples. In its eighth edition this year, the Competition is promoted by the Campania Regional Directorate for Museums, with support from the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity of the Ministry for cultural heritage and activities and for tourism (MiBACT).

This year’s theme is Chiusi dentro, chiusi fuori. Come salvarsi insieme, come ricostruire comunità. Cosa ci lascerà questa crisi? (Shut in inside, shut in outside. How to save ourselves together. How to rebuild the community. What will this crisis leave us?)

The call, with the participation procedures and information for entering and submitting projects, is published on the website dedicated to the competition (www.polonapoli-projects.beniculturali.it). Applications may be submitted by no later than 12:00 PM on 18 February 2021.

Extended deadline: 18 marzo 2021



This year’s choice of theme could not ignore the major crisis – a health crisis, but an economic and social one as well – that has struck the entire planet, suddenly exploding all individual and collective certainties, and casting doubt on the interpretative paradigms and cultural instruments of these times we are living in. Forced to adhere to separation and physical distancing, we have sacrificed many individual rights for a higher, collective good: preserving everyone’s health.

Loneliness, prohibitions, and regulations are all engraved on our bodies and our languages: we have lost any habit for contact, which we avoid almost fearfully; embraces are a thing of the past. Behind the masks, faces – the privileged location for the expression of feelings and emotions - disappear. Shut in inside, shut in outside, our bodies contract into themselves, with no possibility of interacting with other bodies except within the limited sphere of our closest loved ones. During the closure, uncertainty over the future spreads among people in their greater isolation, and moments of suspension and apprehension are experienced; but this condition can also teach us something in personal and collective terms: people can’t save themselves on their own. Gestures of solidarity towards and acts of sharing with those who have less than us become a reality, and we feel the need to experience the outside together – the outside of the city, or of landscapes immersed in nature. Crises in fact contain potentials to be grasped, and possibilities for reflection. Perhaps the old normal was not so fair, or so optimal. Perhaps the old normal will never return, and we will be able design a “new normal” – one that is fairer, less unequal, and more human.

Castel Sant’Elmo embraces all these “images of the pandemic”: an impenetrable fortress and a place of imprisonment, but also a place at the centre of a visual embrace of “sharing,” thanks to its special orography, and the territory’s urban and social history.

At a time when the arts (and their places) discover they have objective limitations, with the closure of museums, exhibitions, concert halls, cinemas and theatres, this edition invites artists to share their experience of distancing, of being shut in, in order to express the variety of thoughts and feelings that this situation can generate, and that oscillates between solitudes and community desires.

After the imposing restoration works and its restitution for use by citizens and by a larger public of visitors, the Castel Sant’Elmo monumental complex has played a fundamental role in spreading knowledge of the contemporary artistic language, through the staging of numerous events, exhibitions, and shows, becoming a place of research and experimentation and the site of a great many site-specific works.

This vocation for the contemporary was consolidated with the opening, in March, 2010, of the Novecento a Napoli museum dedicated to the historic and artistic events in Naples, and to their constant relationship with the development of national-level movements and poetics. The museum’s activity is aimed not only at the acquisition of new artworks and the expansion of its chronological and thematic boundaries, but also at an ongoing dialogue with the history of the Italian Novecento and with the broad and varied landscape of contemporary creative experiences. Castel Sant’Elmo has been a member of AMACI – Associazione Musei d'Arte Contemporanea Italiani since 2003.

Since 2011, this path has included the Un’Opera per il Castello competition, intended to transform the Castle into a place where young generations of artists can find space for expression and recognition by the public and critics alike, through innovative experiences that are captivating for visitors.

The winner, selected by a panel of experts, will be awarded a € 10,000 prize towards realizing the work, which will become part of the permanent collection of Castel Sant’Elmo - Novecento a Napoli. The winning work will be inaugurated with a final show along with the projects of the ten finalists, as permitted by the Covid-19 containment measures. The catalogue of the eighth edition will document the winning work, the finalists’ biographies, and their projects.

The panel will be designated and chaired by the Campania Regional Director of Museums, and will be composed of the Director of Unit 2 – Contemporary Art of the Directorate-General for Contemporary Creativity, the Director of Castel Sant'Elmo, and art historians, university and Academy of Fine Arts professors, curators, experts in the sector, and representatives of outfits that interact with the young generations of artists.

This edition was carried out thanks to the support of Italcoat and Seda, with the collaboration of Associazione Amici di Capodimonte and technical/organizational support from arte’m and Ales S.p.A.

Organizational secretary: drm-cam.santelmo@beniculturali.it
Promotion, communication, and press office: drm-cam.comunicazione@beniculturali.it
For more information: www.polonapoli-projects.beniculturali.it | drm-cam.santelmo@beniculturali.it

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