BIENNALE Our favourites from Venice
S P OT L IGH T Japanese Triennial and island beauty
COMMEN T Konrad Buhagiar on the beauty of destruction
€2.00 WHERE SOLD
+ GIULIA PRIVITELLI
Fragments from a Collection “Collecting art is a way of entering a silent conversation of sorts with artists, irrelevant to time, space, culture, or even language.” Comment, Pg. 37 ANN DINGLI
Jesse Darling, March of the Valedictorians, (2016) within the main exhibition of the 58th Venice Art Biennale, May you live in interesting times, curated by Ralph Rugoff. Photo by Lisa Gwen Baldacchino
The art of influencers, the influencers of art
NEWS: Serpentine Pavilion opens INTERVIEW: Sallyanne Morgan’s last Malta show Q & A: Sara Dolfi Agostini on curating in Malta SPOTLIGHT: Ugandan art coming of age REVIEW: Doris Salcedo show in Dublin NEWS: Turner Prize nominations announced SPOTLIGHT: Cindy Sherman retrospective
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Isabelle Borg, exhibition poster, September 1985, from the Dennis Vella Collection. Sold March 2019, Antiques & Fine Arts auction, Obelisk Auctioneers and Valuers.
t’s the middle of January and the Whitney museum is at its fullest. A mix of wide-eyed and earnest explorers, tourists shielding themselves from the overpriced Chelsea Market food, and rimless spectacled art aficionados coalesce towards the oddly un-ceremonial entrance to the much-advertised Andy Warhol From A to B and Back Again. >> Pg.44
Welcome / Team / Inside June – July –‘19
Editor-in-Chief Lily Agius (+356) 9929 2488 Editor Margerita Pulè Creative Director Chris Psaila Assistant Designer Nicholas Cutajar Sales Manager Lily Agius (+356) 9929 2488 Contributors Lisa Gwen Baldacchino Finn Blythe Konrad Buhagiar Sandro Debono Joanna Delia Ann Dingli Richard England Henry Falzon Judy Falzon Karin Grech Bruce Micallef Eynaud George Micallef Eynaud Giulia Privitelli Eleonora Salvi Gabriele Spiller Christine Xuereb Seidu Artpaper is owned / produced by Lily Agius and Chris Psaila [ V ] Publications
the Venice Biennale has become an enviable milestone in any artist’s career, and a valuable addition to their curriculum vitae. The Biennale – which lasts over 6 months – is hugely popular; in 2017 it registered almost 650,000 visitors. This is an important international art event and Malta’s participation again this year will no doubt strengthen the international recognition of Maltese art, which will, in turn, elevate the position of Maltese artists within the global art market. This year’s main Biennale exhibition, titled May You Live in Interesting Times runs until 24 November, so there’s still plenty of time for art enthusiasts left to visit. I suggest visiting towards the end of the event’s stint, when the weather is more
25. Music Contemporary music and architecture
05. Prix Pictet Maltese photographer nominated
44. Selfies Museums and social media
42. Cindy Sherman At the National Portrait Gallery
11. Manolo Blahnik Design alongside art
07. Gallery 23 Balzan gallery opens
29. Design Prize Madonnina awarded
08. Alternative Art goes SOLO
Supported by / International Art Basel, Ashmolean Museum, Bauhaus Archive, Belvedere Museum, Biennale di Venezia, Christie’s, Design Boom, Design Museum Holon, Design Museum London, Dream City Fimbank, Hayward Gallery, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Lyon Biennale, Louis Vuitton Foundation, Louvre, Momentum 10, Museum of Old and New Art, National Portrait Gallery London, Ostrale Biennale of Contemporary Art, Prix Pictet, Serpentine Pavilion, Setouchi Triennale, Sotheby’s, Sydney Contemporary, Tamale Art Centre, Taschen, Tate Modern, Turner Prize, Velázquez Palace, Vienna Biennale for Change, Vitra, Whitney Biennial
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37. Denis Vella A personal collection
05. Lithuania Pavilion wins Golden Lion Award 05. Hockney Double-portrait at auction 08. Rembrandt Louvre plans to buy The Standard Bearer 11. Tamale Art centre opens 18. Turner Prize Nominees announced
Supported by / Malta AP Valletta, APS Mdina Biennale, art..e Gallery, Arthall, Bee Wise, Blitz, Campari, China Cultural Centre Malta, Gabriel Caruana Foundation, Gallery 23, Heritage Malta, Hublot, La Bottega Art Bistro, Lily Agius Gallery, LogoGrafixExpress, Malta School of Art, Malta Society of Arts, Malta Tourism Authority, Manoel Theatre, MUZA, Obelisk Auction House, People & Skin, Raymond Weil, Selekted Malta, SOLO Vinyl & Books, Spazju Kreattiv, The Macc, Valletta Contemporary, Valletta Cultural Agency, Valletta Film Festival, Vamp Magazine, Vee Gee Bee Art Shop
forgiving and the crowds less daunting! The satellite exhibitions dotted around outside the main venues curated by various galleries and countries are also worth popping into, and remember, you don’t have understand or like it all – it is art, after all, created by one human being for another... and sometimes it can be lost in translation.
t is always a pleasure to see a consistent flow of emerging Maltese artists whose practices are achieving well-deserved professional recognition. Maltabased artists are also exhibiting abroad more frequently, including – again this year – at the Venice Biennale. This huge bi-annual event, dating back to 1895, has become a mecca for art enthusiasts, having been recognised as one of the most dynamic art events in 1951, when the inimitable Peggy Guggenheim exhibited her personal collection at the event’s twenty-fourth edition. Guggenheim was one of twentiethcentury America’s most influential patrons of the arts. She fought to establish the names of the numerous artists she exhibited – among them Jackson Pollock and Man Ray – and that today are household names. Participating in
08. The Macc One stop shop for events
23. Uganda Emerging African artists 29. Paris & Sri Lanka Rebuilding treasured monuments 40. Art scam Fake heiress sentenced 40. Sotheby’s Rothko and Bacon sale 40. Christie’s Upcoming sale
EXHIBITIONS + EVENTS 06. Mdina 2020 Biennale announced 07. Ostrale Contemporary art in Dresden .
07. Hagarna Public artwork in place 11. Retrospective Lee Krasner 15. Valletta Film Festival City as Cinema in June
20. Art Basel Turns 50 in 2020
12. Valletta Contemporary One year on
31. What’s On Visual art events in Malta
19. Q & A Sara Dolfi Agostini works with Blitz
33. International A selection of global exhibitions
34. Sallyanne Morgan Life, love and cement
36. Lyon Biennale celebrates 15 years
REVIEWS 21. Doris Salcedo Acts of Mourning
ARCHITECTURE + BOOKS
28. MONA Hobart goes contemporary
08. Relaunch Postcards from Paradise
38. Venice All the world at the Biennale
25. I M Pei Death of a giant 33. Serpentine Junya Ishigami Pavilion 47. Kay Nielsen 1001 Nights
COMMENT / OPINION 09. Philosophy Why do we need art? 14. Notre Dame Social media & collective memory 17. Notre Dame Beauty in burning
SPOTLIGHT 23. Uganda Emerging African artists 26. Setouchi Triennale on Japanese islands
Competition by Bruce Eynaud Go Figure! Can you guess the 3 artworks that make up this figure? Send your answers by email to info@ artpaper.press by 31 July, with ‘Competition’ as the subject, for a chance to win: First Prize: A year-pass to all Heritage Malta sites Second Prize: €20 voucher from VeeGeeBee Art Shop Winners from previous issue: (1) Kristina Bugaeva has won a year-pass to all Heritage Malta sites and (2) John Paul Muscat has won a €20 voucher from VeeGeeBee Art Shop
Years at the Forefront of Global Trade
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Art News / On the Scene June – July –‘19
ON the SCENE.
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way - things I had no words for.” – Georgia O’Keeffe
REVIEW / INTERVIEW
COMMENT / OPINION
David Hockney Sale
Prix Pictet Maltese photographer Alex Attard has been nominated for the 2019 Prix Pictet for his Parallel Existences series. The Prix Pictet is the global award for photography and sustainability, and follows the theme of ‘Hope’ for this year’s awards. Attard created Parallel Existences in collaboration with the Notarial Archives in Valletta, photographing fragments of severely damaged manuscripts in his signature black and white style, giving them an organic, tangible quality. The final award will be granted in November 2019. www.prixpictet.com
Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott, David Hockney, 1969, christies.com (detail)
David Hockney’s double-portrait of Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott, completed in 1969, sold earlier this year for no less than €44m. The work, measuring 2.13 x 3.04m depicts curator Henry Geldzahler and his partner, painter Christopher Scott in Geldzahler’s Manhattan apartment. It is the third in a series of seven large ‘double-portraits’, which Hockney worked on between 1968 and 1974. Despite its considerable price tag, this is not Hockney’s most expensive sale; a new record of €80.4 million was set for Portrait of an Artist (Pool with two figures) last November at Christie’s, setting a new world record for a living artist.
02 Lithuania Pavilion: Sun & Sea (Marina), photo ArchDaily
Take Part in an Installation at the Venice Biennale The Golden Lion award for Best National Participation at this year’s Venice Art Biennale was awarded to Lithuania for the pavilion entitled Sun & Sea (Marina). The operatic-installation – created by theatre director Rugilê Barzdžiukaitê, playwright Vaiva Grainytê, and composer Lina Lapelytê – foretells the end of the world brought about by human apathy, inviting audience members to sunbathe on the pavilion’s beach under its artificial sun and participate in the artwork. If visitors can sing, they’re also welcome to note down their talents on the pavilion’s registration form – who knows, they might find themselves performing in Venice! www. sunandsea.it
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Art News / Malta June – July –‘19 MALTA
Alternative Exhibitions in Malta
APS Mdina Biennale Announced
OLO has embarked upon a programme of exhibitions in Malta, launching with The Hunt for Pink and other stories – an exhibition of photographs by Lisa Gwen Baldacchino taking place in May 2019; and continuing with Ciao Ghalikom – a selection of poster art by Magda Azam in June. Solo, run by Milanese Pietro Bossi, specialises in vinyl and art books and first opened in Milan in 2011, before opening a permanent Malta outlet in 2018.
The APS Mdina Biennale 2020 has been announced, and will take place from 13 March to 18 April next year. This third edition of the biennale will focus on the relationship between spirituality and the environment, asking whether art can have an impact on the conflicting relationship between materiality and nature. The Mdina Biennale, which took place previously in 2015 and 2017, places spirituality alongside contemporary art, and creates a programme centred around St Paul’s Cathedral in the historic city of Mdina. www.mdinabiennale.com
Ciao Ghalikom runs until 22 June 2019. More info on www.solovinylbooks.com.
Ciao Ghalikom, Magda Azab
Duška Maleševic, © APS Mdina Biennale & Elisa von Brockdorff.
Variation of Flowers by Goxwa Limited edition signed print, 100x100cm, on canvas or Rauch Fine Art Velvet, acid free paper, manufactured to archival standards. Also available with original oil additions by the artist. Lily Agius Gallery, 54 Cathedral Street, Sliema. (+356) 99292488 / www.lilyagiusgallery.com
Hania Farrell, © APS Mdina Biennale & Elisa von Brockdorff.
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Art News / Malta June – July –‘19 GERMANY
Maltese Artists Exhibit at Ostrale 2019
he 12th Ostrale Biennale for Contemporary Art will take place once again in Dresden this summer, featuring among the hundred-plus participating artists entries from nine Maltese artists. Austin Camilleri will be exhibiting his work Bandiera Bianca, a dual-channel video piece along with a sculptural object exploring displacement and the perils of voyage
Proscenium, Alex Attard, 2015, photograph. Photo courtesy of Ostrale
towards fulfilment. Pierre Portelli will show new work titled Mystic Body in the Panopticon Eye, involving a straight-jacket and CCTV and exploring themes of surveillance and data-harvesting. Vince Briffa – who is also exhibiting at Malta’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale this year – will be showing an installation with sound titled Fomm ir-Rih. Other Maltese artists include Ryan Falzon, Enriqué Tabone and Darren Tanti. Ostrale, one of Germany’s biggest exhibitions will take
place in venues all over Dresden, and will this year be built on the theme of ‘isms’. Venues include the Old Firestation Loschwitz and the Literaturhaus Villa Augustin. Ostrale 2019 will take place from 3 July to 1 September 2019. www.ostrale.de
Art from Stone and Clay Hagarna, a public sculpture by Gozitan artist Victor Agius, has been installed in public gardens in the village of Xaghra. The sculpture is made of two huge dissected boulders, engraved with poems by Immanuel Mifsud and the late Mgr Michelangelo Apap, placed opposite each other, creating a passage between them. During an event to present the sculpture to the public in May 2019, local communities participated in a ceremonial performance, bringing red oxide clay – synonymous with rituals of prehistoric times and especially used at Xaghra Circle – to the sculpture. The clay was then combined by Agius in a contemporary performance piece. Agius believes that by conjuring images that will remain in the community’s conscious-
ness, the performance became a vital element of the tangible monument. The sculpture has been placed between four prehistoric sites - Ggantija Temples, Santa Verna Temple, Ghar ta’ Ghejzu and Xaghra Circle - and will act as a convergence point for local traditional and contemporary art. It is a reflection of the artist’s desire to retrieve diverse narratives related to the community of the village of Xaghra, figuratively entrapped within the stone. Victor Agius is known for his contemporary interpretations of the prehistoric elements of Xaghra and for the ephemeral nature of his works. More info on www.victoragius.com.
Hagarna, Victor Agius, 2019, photo courtesy of the artist
New Gallery Launched Gallery 23 opened its doors recently with an exhibition of watercolours by Sarah Calleja. The new gallery is located near San Anton Gardens and promises to showcase the work of emerging and established artists. It will offer an exclusive, alternative exhibition experience focused on bringing quality, sense-provoking fine art to the people who love it. More info on www.gallery23malta.com.
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Art News / Malta / France
June – July –‘19 MALTA
Reprint of Photo– Book, Postcards from Paradise .
D Maltese Islands, Marc England
New Maltese Art + Culture Platform The Malta Arts and Culture Club (The MACC) is a new cultural platform offering event listings, creative industry networking, and money-saving deals for members. Run by cultural organisation Allura, The MACC is designed to inform users of events, screenings, exhibitions and shows according to their preferences, with a personalised what’s-on guide and a live posting function. More information can be found at www.allura.com.mt/themacc-english, while a sign-up page is available at www.themacc.mt.
uška Maleševic has recently launched a reprint of her photo-book, Postcards from Paradise. The publication came about as a result of a long-term documentary photo project shot over 12 years – since Maleševic’s arrival in Malta in the 1990s – and was first launched at Malta Design Week in 2014. The images reflect an off-centre and un-picturesque Malta, where modern life and a timeless ingenuity combine to produce surreal, but also intimate scenes. Postcards from Paradise is available for sale at Valletta Contemporary, . Blitz, SOLO vinyl & books and on selektedmalta.com. More information on www.duskamalesevic.com. From the book, Postcards from Paradise Duška Maleševic
Louvre Plans to Acquire Rembrandt Masterpiece Following the French state’s decision to defer the painting’s export license and give national museums first refusal on the work, the Louvre is planning to buy Rembrandt’s The Standard Bearer, which has belonged to the Rothschild family since 1840. The Louvre will need to purchase the piece within just over two years, and subsequently prevent it from leaving France. The painting is a life-size depiction of an ensign in one of Amsterdam’s civic guard companies, who has been identified as Floris Soop, a wealthy contemporary of Rembrandt. (The Art Newspaper)
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The Standard Bearer, Rembrandt, 1636 via Wikicommons
BRUCE MICALLEF EYNAUD
Photos: David Levene
M a y Yo u L i v e i n I n t e r e s t i n g Ti m e s 11 May > 24 Nov 2019
M A LT A P A V I L I O N AT T H E B I E NN A L E A RT E 2 0 1 9 IN VENICE Curator: Hesperia Iliadou Malta Pavilion artists: Vince Briffa, Trevor Borg, Klitsa Antoniou Architect: Matthew Casha Commissioned by Arts Council Malta
C l o s e d o n M o n d a y s ( e x c e p t 1 3 M a y, 2 S e p t e m b e r, 1 8 N o v e m b e r )
c. Tümer Gençtürk
The newly-launched Valletta Cultural Agency (VCA) is tasked with sustaining and strengthening the capital city’s vibrant cultural life through the creation of an annual programme of creative events developed in collaboration with artists and other Public Cultural Organisations. A legacy of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, the VCA also upholds standards of excellence in the coordination and organisation cu of cultural events in the city, while encouraging access and participation by a diverse audience.
Throughout 2019, the VCA is launching a series of open calls for artists, collectives and organisations to submit proposals for inclusion in VCA’s Cultural Programme. Visit vca.gov.mt for regular updates.
Art News / Ghana / UK June – July –‘19 UK
Lee Krasner Retrospective
New Contemporary Art Centre Set to further expand the Contemporary Art Scene in Ghana
Kofi Dawson. In Pursuit of Something ‘Beautiful’ Perhaps…SCCA Tamale. Photo: Ibrahim Mahama, courtesy of the SCCA Tamale
In the centre of the capital city Tamale, in the Northern Region of Ghana, now lies a powerful art space founded by world-renowned Ghanaian artist, Ibrahim Mahama, as a contribution towards transforming the contemporary art scene in Ghana and initiating change in his hometown.
Lee Krasner: Living Colour, Installation View with Combat, 1965, Barbican Art Gallery, © Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
The Barbican is celebrating the work and life of Lee Krasner with the first major presentation of her work in Europe for more than 50 years. Lee Krasner: Living Colour tells the story of a formidable artist, whose importance has too often been eclipsed by her marriage to Jackson Pollock. Born to a Ukrainian-Jewish family in New York
in 1908, Krasner is now seen as a key transitional figure within abstraction, connecting early-20th-century art with the new ideas of post-war New York. Lee Krasner: Living Colour is on show at the Barbican until 1 September 2019. www.barbican.org.uk
The Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art (SCCA), Tamale, is an artist-run project space, exhibition and research hub, cultural repository, and artists’ residency, run by a team who intend – with its diverse programming and research interests – to spotlight significant moments in Ghanaian and international art within a communal space. The centre is affiliated with blaxTARLINES KUMASI, a contemporary art project space from Ghana’s foremost art school at K.N.U.S.T., in Kumasi. SCCA-Tamale is dedicated to art and cultural practices which emerged during the 20th century and which now inspire generations of artists and thinkers of the 21st century and beyond. It opened with the retrospective exhibition of the work of Ghanaian modernist Galle Winston Kofi Dawson, titled, In Pursuit of Something ‘Beautiful’, Perhaps …’. More information can be found on www.sccatamale.org.
Manolo Blahnik Archive on Show
he Wallace Collection and Manolo Blahnik are collaborating this summer to present an exhibition of shoe designs from Blahnik’s private archives alongside the masterpieces of the Wallace Collection.
The exhibition displays the diversity of Blahnik’s designs, and sets them among corresponding works from the collection. His candy-coloured shoes designed for Sofia Coppola’s award-winning film, Marie Antoinette, are seen alongside Fragonard’s Swing and Boucher’s Mme de Pompadour, while his jewel-encrusted shoes are set among the diamond-mounted gold boxes and delicately painted miniatures of the Wallace Collection’s Boudoir Cabinet. With a career spanning almost 50 years, Manolo Blahnik is one of the world’s most influential footwear designers. The Wallace Collection encompasses old master oil paintings from the 14th to the late 19th centuries including works by Titian, Velazquez, Rubens and Van Dyck, as well as an extensive collection of French 18th century art. An Enquiring Mind: Manolo Blahnik at the Wallace Collection is open to the public until 1 September 2019. More info on www.wallacecollection.org
Manolo Blahnik, Antoinetta ©Manolo Blahnik
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Interview / Gallery / Malta June – July –‘19 MALTA
A Space for the Now
Nadine Baldow - Pristine Paradise Show. Caution. Contaminated Artefacts, 2019
Marking Valletta Contemporary’s first year of operation.
pril of this year marked one year since the opening of Valletta Cont e m p o r a r y. The gallery is run by the META Foundation, which was initiated by artist and architect Norbert Francis Attard. The people of Malta, and everyone else who graces our shores with their presence, deserve a space where they can feast their eyes, ears and souls on the variety of moving, exciting and confusing media which artists use to express themselves in contemporary art. And has the space delivered? Boasting eight
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shows in its first year of operation, the space has certainly kept its team of gallery assistants and advisers very busy. Joanna Delia (JD), head of META Foundation’s Advisory Board, caught up with Norbert Francis Attard (NFA), who is also the gallery’s Artistic Director, to get some insight into Valletta Contemporary’s first year of operation. JD: Could you give us an overall summary of how the first year of Valletta Contemporary went for you? NFA: The first year was a challenge, since apart from realising the exhibition programme, there were many other issues within the gallery’s organisation structure to address. These included finishing off the venue itself, develop-
ing an educational program, and employing new staff. Apart from this, and as part of our day-to-day operations, we were developing new schemes to support our project, sourcing funding opportunities, increasing our visibility, and so much more. JD: How satisfied are you with this first year? NFA: I’m rarely satisfied. There is always room for improvement and development which makes ‘total satisfaction’ impossible, in my opinion. Considering all the constraints we have dealt with I am pleased with our first calendar year and the diversity of our exhibition programme. We have hosted some great artists, such as Mona Hatoum, Bruce
Nauman, Joan Jonas, etc. and we have worked to ensure we are keeping on the right track. JD: What would you have done differently? NFA: Dealing with people has proved difficult, as some situations can be quite demanding. I am originally an artist, and was therefore inexperienced as a gallerist in dealing with commercial galleries and curators. I made a decision to have better agreements and contracts in place – I think one needs to be clear about everything from the very beginning. JD: Has the project exceeded your expectations?
Interview / Gallery / Malta June – July –‘19
JOANNA DELIA is a medical doctor who specialises in cosmetic medicine. She is also a cultural consumer and art collector who tirelessly supports local contemporary art and culture.
NFA: Even though much remains to be done, I consider the first year to have gone better than expected. In total we have had eight exhibitions over eight months and published a 240-page catalogue as a detailed summary of what has been shown throughout the year. This will now be an annual publication as part of Valletta Contemporary’s identity. JD: How have other players reacted to Valletta Contemporary? NFA: I firmly believe that we are giving a great opportunity to all the artists exhibiting at Valletta Contemporary. We strive towards achieving a reputation of excellence, and this achievement would make an artist proud to be associated with our project. JD: What kind of feedback have you received? The best two compliments I received were that the venue is a beautiful, overwhelming space; and that we’ve hit the nail on the head when it comes to representing the up-and-coming contemporary art scene in Malta.
Norbert Attard in Valletta Contemporary
JD: Are you excited about the coming year’s shows and operations? NFA: This year we can afford to be more ambitious than the last and I can even say that the coming year will outdo our first! We have placed ourselves in a stronger position and I believe we are able to deal professionally with reputable galleries, institutions, curators and artists. This gives us the confidence to aim even higher and deliver the best we can to the Maltese public. Valletta Contemporary is located on East Street in Valletta. www.vallettacontemporary.com
Gabriel Caruana: A Contemporary in the Modern, exhibition view at Valletta Contemporary
“We have hosted some great artists, such as Mona Hatoum, Bruce Nauman, Joan Jonas, etc. and we have worked to ensure we are keeping on the right track.” >> No.7__ artpaper / 13
SANDRO DEBONO is a curator, academic and museum professional based in Malta. He is specialised in heritage policy and collections development, and has published extensively on art history and culture studies. Sandro is currently the project lead for MUZA, the Malta national-community art museum.
Comment / Paris / Notre Dame June – July –‘19 PARIS
How the Hunchback Stole the Show
n that fateful afternoon in April, most of us were glued to social media platforms and live feeds witnessing first-hand the conflagration of France’s iconic Notre Dame Cathedral. Much like the burning of Jean D’Arc – France’s patron saint burnt at the stake by the English invaders in 1431 – raging fires were consuming a point of reference and an icon, now turned into a much bolder, contemporary symbol of will and determination. Crowds, both physical and virtual, stood helplessly as fire devoured the pitched roof to finally consume Violet Le Duc’s crossing spire. There was drama and emotion in the billowing smoke of seasoned wood and lead; each of us had a personal reading of what was happening, informed by our own knowledge-luggage and understanding of Notre Dame. I stood watching helplessly, having been in Paris just a few weeks previously. My first reaction was to go through Twitter posts, looking for personal and collective reactions of sorts, particularly those coming from non-French users. The tag #hunchbackofNotreDame proved quite insightful and trends were immediately noticeable. That Notre Dame Cathedral would be associated with Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame was, in many ways, expected – indeed, the novel was actually written by Hugo with the intention of safeguarding, if not saving this monument. Meanwhile, Disney’s 1996 blockbuster built on the exposure that the novel had generated since it was published and, once again, brought Notre Dame Cathedral into focus on the international stage. Disney animation was mentioned consistently by Twitter users during the fire’s duration, oftentimes connecting real-time visuals and footage with imagery from the film. Many posts featured mild, subtle refer-
ences, blurring the lines between reality and fiction, animation and life footage. I also came across bolder posts, with animation and reality woven together, as the Disney blockbuster show was transported into the now, and as if the fictional characters themselves were to blame for what was happening. The more explicit posts quoted fictional characters as if they were onsite; in one instance the hunchback was directly cited as a presence on site as the spire collapsed engulfed in flames. Interestingly, there was no reference to fires at Notre Dame in Victor Hugo’s novel and the only references to those in Disney’s blockbuster do not concern the Cathedral but its surroundings. That Disney’s blockbuster has shaped our collective memory and value system surrounding this iconic Gothic cathedral is certain, particularly in the anglophone world. Media undoubtedly has an overbearing influence on our memory systems, individually and collectively.
to promote a better and more comprehensive understanding of a cultural heritage site. In Malta’s case, it is perhaps difficult to think of blockbuster narratives beyond that of the Great Siege of Malta. The story of the Great Siege as we now understand it relies more on the mythical rather than the factual; note, for example, how the terms Ottoman and Turkish are frequently confused. Maltese historic sites of significance might well require a Quasimodo rather than a de Valette within a contemporary discourse – why not allow him to lead the way, if this enables us to foster a common understanding of history? Incidentally, at the time of writing, Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame is currently trending as the best-selling book on Amazon France. The original contribution informing this one was first published on medium.com/the-neo-humanist-museum.
Notre Dame is a place of memory or a lieux de mémoire to use terminology coined by French scholar Pierre Nora. It is a site stratified with the broadest range of values that go from the collective to the individual. There’s no question that this is a historic site of cultural significance but the ways and means in which this is understood is not necessarily connected with history books, and particularly not with those endorsed by the nation-state which tend to inform an institutionalised and hegemonic narrative. Notre Dame’s history, the history that holds the site’s collective memory together, has certainly been informed by Victor Hugo’s fiction. In contemporary times it is, however, much more informed and articulated by Disney’s blockbuster. Indeed, Disney has shaped our collective memory of the site to such an extent as to mix fact with fiction. Educators and curators must ask whether to call on ‘false’ collective memory, in order
Disney animation was mentioned consistently by Twitter users during the fire’s duration, oftentimes connecting real-time visuals and footage with imagery from the film.
2 0 1 , M E R C H A N T S T R E E T, VA L L E T TA
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Spotlight / Film / Valletta June – July –‘19 FRANCE
Valletta Film Festival 2019 – When a City becomes a Cinema
he fifth edition of the Valletta Film Festival will take place at various venues around Malta’s capital city from 14 to 23 June 2019. Over 40 feature films will be exhibited during the festival in various competitive and non-competitive sections.
Acclaimed Hungarian Film Director Bela Tarr (The Turin Horse, Man From London, Satantango) will be attending this year’s festival and will be delivering a masterclass to film-makers on 22 June. Italian film director Liliana Cavani will also be attending the festival – a screening of her film The Night Porter will be held on 17 June. She will deliver a masterclass on the following day. Among the films showing at VFF 2019 is Synonyms, this year’s Golden Bear winner at the Berlinale. The French-Israeli co-production directed by Nadav Lapid tells the story of Yoav, a young Israeli, determined to wipe out his origins and become French. The Valletta Film Festival will be honouring the memory and work of the late Agnès Varda by screening her last film Varda by Agnès. The film forms part of the “Without Borders” selection that will showcase francophone films The “Islanders” section will feature a production from Malta – Bahar Zmien (Of Time and the Sea) by Peter Sant – an allegorical film about a state of inactivity that explores the usefulness and pain of memory, starring Ruth Borg and Narcy Calamatta. Still from Varda by Agnès Varda, 2019
For more information about other films showing at the festival visit www.vallettafilmfestival.com.
Valletta Film Festival, Pjazza Teatru Rjal
Hungarian Film Director Bela Tarr will be delivering a Masterclass at VFF 2019
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Eames Fiberglass Chairs, Charles & Ray Eames, 1950 The Fiberglass Chairs were launched on the market in 1950, introducing a new furniture typology that has since become widespread: the multifunctional chair whose shell can be combined with a variety of bases to serve different purposes. In response to the enormous popularity of the chair, the choice of bases and colours was subsequently expanded. Over the course of the following decade, the Fiberglass Chairs became one of the best known furniture designs of the twentieth century.
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KONRAD BUHAGIAR is a founding partner of Architecture Project and has been responsible for numerous restoration and rehabilitation works in historic buildings and urban sites. He has lectured in Malta and several countries abroad, published numerous historical articles and has been the Chairman of both the Heritage Advisory Committee and the Valletta Rehabilitation Committee. Konrad is also the chief editor behind our A Printed Thing and Founding Myths of Architecture publications.
Comment / Fine Art / Beauty June – July –‘19 CULTURE
Beauty is a simple passion
illuminating the towers of Westminster Abbey. The fire is reflected in the water that turns red and serves as a foil to the mass of spectators in the foreground. To the right of the painting, Westminster Bridge looms high and white like an iceberg, its perspective serving to focus attention on the auto-da-fe in the distance.
hen I was growing up in Sliema, I began very early to take an interest in the architecture of the houses that surrounded me. Among the many eclectic houses I admired, with their multifarious styles and abundance of decorative sculpted elements and profiles, I remember, I was fascinated by a monumental block of apartments not far from where I lived. It was a massive and powerful block built from huge rusticated stones that gave it a look of a natural phenomenon, rather than an artefact created by man – a rough and sheer cliff, or a crag or rock outcrop. Vaguely V-shaped in plan, the facade on the highest point of the plot was very narrow and tall, and the building fanned out from it as it descended the steep incline towards the seafront. On this facade, dwarfed by the grand scale of the block itself, was a quaint grocery shop with a typical pale-blue timber front and, far above, as one looked up, one could glimpse a set of words painted on the crowning pediment. They said: OMNIA ORTA OCCIDENT. My father, who was a teacher of Latin, explained to me the meaning of those words. ‘What goes up must come down’ or ‘All things that have risen also set’. ORTA, he explained, is the past participle of ‘orior’, to rise, from which the term ‘orient’ is derived, the East. OCCIDENT, on the other hand, is derived from ‘occidere’ to set, to kill, which is the domain of the West, the home of the dying sun. I used to be amazed by all these connections between modern words and the language of ancient civilizations, between the names of the mythical place that the Orient was to me and the arc of the sun whose changing light creates
The second painting, in the Cleveland . Museum of Art, shows a similar scene from further downstream, closer to Waterloo Bridge. Fire and bellowing smoke create a dramatic veil over the Thames as spectators silhouetted on the river bank, and in boats, look on.
certainty and rhythm in our otherwise unpredictable lives. The letters have faded considerably and are all but visible today and I sadly never bothered to find out who the architect of the building, and teacher of this humble life-lesson, was. Those words, which remained with me all my life, were instrumental in helping to soften the blow dealt by the news of the fire that recently ravished the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Strangely, it wasn’t only this centuries-old wisdom that made the tragedy less horrific to my mind. It was also something else: I couldn’t help but note the beauty of the colours recorded in the photos that were carried in the press. The gold and red flames that engulfed the collapsing steeple glowing against the deep blue evening sky had an uncanny resemblance to some well-loved paintings which record other forgotten fires and incendiary incidents in history. They manage to transform moments of horror into images of incredible beauty,
transcending the mundane nature of the event and transforming it into a symbol of the passage to a new order. The best known are perhaps the two paintings by J.M.W. Turner entitled The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons that depict the fire that broke out at the Houses of Parliament on the evening of 16 October 1834. Turner joined the crowd of spectators that witnessed the scene from the south bank of the River Thames, opposite Westminster, making pencil and watercolour sketches from different vantage points, including from a rented boat. These served as a basis for the paintings made in late 1834 or early 1835. The first painting, forming part of the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, shows the Houses of Parliament from the upstream side of Westminster Bridge. The buildings across the river are enveloped in golden flames, consuming the chamber of the House of Commons in St Stephen’s Hall, and
Depicted with greater accuracy but with equal pictorial excellence are the Bristol Riots of October 1831 by W.J. Muller. His bold watercolours and small oil sketches form one of the most compelling visual records of a national disaster before the advent of the camera. For nearly two days, the city was effectively in the hands of the mob and the prisons, toll-houses, the Customs House and Bishop’s House, amongst other buildings, were burnt down. Muller witnessed all of this destruction as it happened. His painting provides a comprehensive record of the dramatic visual effects of the fires combined with the brooding and sombre low cloud that settled over Bristol on that cold and wet October evening. Muller came to Malta in the autumn of 1843, accompanying the expedition led by Sir Charles Fellows that was on its way to excavate, document and remove to the British Museum some of the ancient Xanthian tombs in Lycia, Turkey. He travelled on the French Government steamer Minos that left the port of Marseilles, stopping in Naples on the way to Malta. Also aboard the steamer was another painter, Ippolito Caffi, who was from Belluno in the Veneto. Caffi was travelling to Athens and Con-
“Beauty is a simple passion But, oh my friends, in the end You will dance the fire dance in iron shoes.” Anne Sexton >> No.7__ artpaper / 17
Comment / Fine Art / Beauty
June – July –‘19 CULTURE Continued
stantinople to extend his perspective and landscape repertoire in the Orient. Whether Caffi actually met Muller on board cannot be proven but, like Muller, his work was symptomatic of the times, enriching the landscape tradition with all that the 19th century stood for, from political insurgence to technological advancement. His need to document, as accurately as possible, reality in all its visual aspects made of him an excep-
tional artist-reporter like Muller – an unprecedented witness of atmospheric phenomena, social and political events of historical relevance and effects of natural and artificial light, moonlight, fireworks and torchlights, on his favourite urban landscapes. His painting entitled Bombardment of Marghera on the Night of May 24, 1849 was perhaps only a foretaste of his tragic death in 1866; his project to commemorate
in painting the first Italian naval engagement against the Austrians having been frustrated when the Re’ d’Italia, on which he travelled, was destroyed at the Battle of Lissa, drowning him along with his comrades. In Book 8 of the Illiad, Homer writes: “As a garden poppy, bursts into red blooms, bends, /drooping its head to one side, weighed down /by its full seeds
and a sudden spring shower, /so Gorgythion’s head fell limp over one shoulder, / weighed down by his helmet”. The bending and collapse to one side of Viollet-Le-Duc’s steeple on Notre-Dame springs ominously to mind. Beauty is a simple passion. Fire and death are its inseparable companions.
Tate Britain has announced the four artists who have been shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2019: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani. An exhibition of work by the four shortlisted artists will be held from 28 September 2019 to 12 January 2020 at Turner Contemporary in Margate. The winner will be announced on 3 December 2019. One of the best-known prizes for the visual arts in the world, the Turner Prize aims to promote public debate around new developments in contemporary British art. It is awarded to a British artist for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the past twelve months. The Turner Prize award is £40,000 with £25,000 going to the winner and £5,000 each for the other shortlisted artists. This is the first time that the venue for the Turner Prize, outside of London, has had a direct connection with JMW Turner. Turner Contemporary stands on the site of artist’s lodging house and enjoys views of the skies that Turner felt were ‘the loveliest in all Europe’. www.tate.org.uk
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DC Semiramis, Tai Shani, 2018, Glasgow, Courtesy the artist, Photo Keith Hunter
Turner Prize 2019 Shortlist Announced
Interview / Collaboration / Italy June – July –‘19
ELEONORA SALVI is the co-founder of Diorama Editions (dioramamag.com) and currently collaborates with publishing houses and online art magazines. She graduated in Art History from IULM University in Milan with a master’s thesis on Post-Internet Art.
Façade 2, Maurice Mbikayi, 2018, computer keys, fiberglass and resin, courtesy the artist and Officine dell’Immagine, Milano. Installation view, photo Alexandra Pace, courtesy Blitz Valletta
In Malta with Tears of Joy
Italian-born, independent curator Sara Dolfi Agostini (SDA) has been based in Malta since 2017 and has begun a fruitful collaboration with the contemporary art-space Blitz, run by Alexandra Pace in Valletta. Here, culture-writer Eleonora Salvi (ES) asks her about her curatorial practice, and her experience of living and working Malta.
ES: After 27 years, the World Wide Web has revolutionised our way of communicating. In a very short time, social networks and the world of emoticons have completely changed our social habits. With your exhibition Face with Tears of Joy at Blitz, you brought a group of contemporary artists in Valletta who, with their aesthetic research, ponder on these new methods of digital communi-
cation. I’m thinking of Amalia Ullman for example, and how she uses Instagram. How do you think social media inspires artists? SDA: Luckily artists are not sitting in ivory towers, so they have been tremendously affected by social media, just like us. For the group show at Blitz, I specifically delved into the challenges of language in a globalised world, and how the shift from actual words to pictorial signs – like emojis, gifs, memes, or video games – has opened up a new era of playfulness, entertainment and ambiguity. Their increasing role in our lives runs parallel to, and flirts with, a desire for immediacy and a growing intransigent rejection of complexity and engagement in the real world that reverberates in our cultural, social and
political behaviour. You see this in Amalia Ulman’s work Privilege, as well as in the artworks of Cory Arcangel, Simon Denny (with a new commission), Andy Holden, Maurice Mbikayi, Alexandra Pace, Rob Pruitt, Paul Sochacki, and Serena Vestrucci. ES: When I saw Rob Pruitt’s Gimme a Hug I immediately thought of Untitled (Refrigerator) by Jean-Michel Basquiat. Contemporary art has taught us that mediums are multiple, but equally, as concepts are written, the most common types of communication are drastically evolving. Ready-mades, pop-art and then new media art, have each subverted the canonical idea of artwork. Nowadays a contemporary artist can use appliances, televisions, mobile devices, wearable technologies, etc... but beyond the screen, for a generation of digital native artists, do you think that new boundaries will be set? SDA: I think of boundaries in cultural terms, and it makes things easier because they are not real ones – not like the physical barriers we build for ourselves. However, when artists appropriate technology and web-based aesthetics, there are often conceptual as well as technical issues to deal with. All of them bring real challenges for artists, as well as for the museums entrusted to preserve contemporary art for future generations. In the group show at Blitz, Cory Arcangel, a pioneer of techbased art, showed a work from the series Lakes that grapples with the obsolescence of internet protocols and the well-intentioned yet still inadequate mechanisms of archiving. Speaking of Rob Pruitt, the refrigerator is both an icon and perhaps the humblest appliance of modern society. It is part of our daily life and living spaces, and it re-
flects who we are by protecting what we like (to eat). In an artistic twist, what is mostly functional doesn’t lose its raison d’etre; rather, it adds a new layer by becoming a canvas for the double portrait of a father and son, which is truly completed only if you look at what is inside the fridges. In a society that often imposes function over form, where basic needs are prioritised over culture, Rob Pruitt’s work can be seen as an attempt to integrate art and life, celebrating our taste and vulnerabilities. ES: You are a young curator and writer, nevertheless, you have travelled a lot and you have already interviewed a lot of well-known international artists and curators. Then, two years ago, you landed in Malta. Could you describe what you were met with? Who are your favourite artists and curators, and what do you gain from their experience? SDA: There is a lot to gain from meeting the generations that preceded you, and what I have learned from these experiences levels out the parallel fear of inadequacy. But thankfully the brightest minds out there are often modest and generous if they see that your interest is genuine. I can’t mention them all, so I will only focus on two, for different reasons. Take Magnum Photos’ Stuart Franklin, for example, whose photographs were part of my first curated work in Malta at Spazju Kreattiv last year. He comes often to Gozo and never stops teaching me how to look and look again to discover the ambiguity of our relationship to the visual world. And I would also mention Jimmie Durham, recently awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 58th Venice Biennale, who has a unique way of knotting poetry and irony across sculpture, poems and even emails. It is an art of survival, and it was a pleasure to col-
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Interview / Collaboration / Italy
June – July –‘19 CULTURE Continued
Corridorworld, Alexandra Pace, 2019, digital video + sound, duration: 2 minutes 20 seconds Courtesy Alexandra Pace. Installation view, photo Alexandra Pace, courtesy Blitz Valletta
laborate with him once again in my capacity as associate editor for the 6th issue of the magazine Arts of The Working Class, launched in April 2019. ES: In Malta, you have already curated three exhibitions and begun a collaboration with Blitz in Valletta. Do you think that soon we will enjoy art and cultural events also outside of Valletta, around the rest of the Maltese islands? SDA: I hope so. Malta is much more than Valletta, something I am constantly reminded of every Sunday when my husband Mark and I engage in the discovery of the country, often on foot with our dog. In my second year here, I am also
Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape, Andy Holden, 2011-2017, HD Video, 57min, courtesy the artist. Installation view, photo Alexandra Pace, courtesy Blitz Valletta
becoming aware of the work of many institutions focused on the conservation of cultural landmarks, like Heritage Malta and Din l-Art Helwa. It would be great to collaborate. One of my early working experiences was with the Biennale Manifesta in 2008, which took place in various culturally relevant – yet often abandoned – buildings in the Sud Tyrol region. It shaped my mindset to the point that every time I visit interesting architecture or landscapes I cannot help but think of a possible dialogue with contemporary art.
Orecchino di stagione [Seasonal Earring], Serena Vestrucci, 2017, bronze, lost wax casting, five months, produced by Fonderia Artistica Battaglia, Milan 2017. Installation view, photo Alexandra Pace, courtesy Blitz Valletta
INTERNATIONAL / NEWS
Art Basel Celebrating 50 Years Art Basel will celebrate its 50th anniversary with an intercontinental art project in 2020. The project will be curated by Kasper König, Christina Li, and Hamza Walker – an intergenerational team with varying backgrounds and perspectives – who will commission international and local artists to develop interventions around the topic of the fair as marketplace, and as a historical site for exchange, trade and competition. It will address the production, circulation, mediation, and consumption of contemporary art in a global world. Founded in 1970 by gallerists from Basel, Art Basel today stages hugely successful art fairs for Modern and contemporary art, sited in Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong, offering parallel programming in collaboration with each city, and attracting large international audiences. More information will be released in autumn 2019 on www.artbasel.com Curatorial team Hamza Walker, Kasper König, and Christina Li (l – r), courtesy of Art Basel
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MARGERITA PULÈ is an artist and writer with a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts. Her practice and research are concerned with the contradictions of politics and social realities.
Review / Ireland / Doris Salcedo June – July –‘19 IRELAND
Disremembered;; Unforgotten the work evokes suffering and a violent death without reproducing or representing the act itself – the act of resistance performed through it is a silent one, but it is no less powerful for it.
oris Salcedo has spent over 30 years interviewing and working with victims of political violence in her native Colombia. Through this rigorous and very personal research, the work she creates is immensely powerful, speaking through an unbearable silence for the people and absences she represents. Acts of Mourning at the Irish Museum of Modern Art this summer shows six of Salcedo’s most moving works, creating a show that is almost frightening in the strength of its message.
This sense of unlived lives continues in Untitled (Furniture Works), made of domestic furniture, mutilated and filled with cement. A chair has been drilled through with long metal rods and the empty space of the chair has been filled with grey, dull, heavy cement. There’s a feeling of suffocation in the piece, an obvious feeling of being buried in cement, but also a reference to lives extinguished, chairs no longer occupied by bodies, and furniture no longer making part of a home.
There is an eerie stillness in Salcedo’s work that purposely negates the acts of violence in which each work is rooted. Plegaria Muda is displayed in a large, narrow room; twenty-eight long, hand-made tables stand, each one with a duplicate table lying on top of it. The space between each ‘pair’ of tables is filled with cement and earth, while slender blades of grass grow through tiny gaps in the wood of the upper tables. The effect is unsettling; the tables are coffin-sized and their placement winds a path through the space that is akin to wandering through a graveyard. The grass grows silently during the exhibition; its greenness stands out against the brown wood of the tables, it seems to speak of hope, but the anonymity of the tables reflects the piece’s name; that is a silent prayer. In two small rooms off the main corridor is a new work by Salcedo – Tabula Rasa. It is a reflection of Salcedo’s dedication to the three years she spent interviewing rape victims, in order to understand how they continue to live in a world in which rape is normalised. On the surface, the work is simple – five tables have been unmercifully smashed to tiny, tiny fragments and meticulously put back together again; each table at first appears whole, but a closer look reveals the thousands of pieces that each table is made of. The work is incredibly powerful; the tables speak as a metaphor for women’s bodies – ever-serving – while their state of being whole but at the same time fragmented represents a superficial wholeness that betrays the women’s fragility.
Salcedo’s work displays an unwavering faith in the power of art to assert itself against violence of any kind. Her work has its origins in large-scale political crimes, but has also been inspired by individual injustices. The last work in this exhibition, is a fragment of A Flor de Piel II, a huge sheet made of thousands of rose petals which have been treated in an elaborate preservation process and stitched together, made in mourning for a nurse who was tortured to death in the Colombian war. The effect is strangely autumnal, but also slightly unpleasant; with a plastic texture belying the natural origin of its petals. Thus, the material is in a sort of state of suspension, as if its decaying process has been suspended half-way, leaving it suspended in this state of semi-decay forever.
An equally powerful piece – Atrabiliarios – is unsettling, exuding a sense of suffocation. Shoes have been placed in four niches in the museum wall. But the shoes are trapped, because covering them is a layer of animal skin, stitched to the wall in rough sutures. The animal hide is semi-translucent, so the shoes are only partly visible through it – it’s as if a hand has been placed over a mouth, negating its ability to speak. All of Salcedo’s work speaks about death, but this piece does so by very deliberately not speaking about it. Instead, it acknowl-
edges those who have suffered violence, both singly and universally, so that audiences may feel something of what victims have suffered, and perhaps, history and its cruel acts will not be repeated. Delicate and almost ghostly, Disremembered is made of four blouses delicately woven in raw silk threads, each garment shot through with tiny black needles. The effect is something like an intensely fragile instrument of torture, with the ghostly shape of each blouse tracing pain in its folds and pleats. Again,
Salcedo herself admits that her work, in particular interviewing victims of political violence, has taken a physical and emotional toll on her – this is not surprising, since she has spent all of her career concentrating on this one subject; the interpretation of the experience of these victims. Her work continues to speak of the multitude of absences created by violence and creates a space for the mourning of personal and universal loss. Doris Salcedo, Acts of Mourning is on at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin until 21 July. www.imma.ie
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CHRISTINE XUEREB SEIDU founded Christine X Art Gallery in 2004 after a university degree in Art History and Anthropology. She now lives in Ghana where she continues to explore African art and culture, after handing her gallery over to its new owner
Spotlight / Uganda / Africa June – July –‘19 UGANDA
CHRISTINE XUEREB SEIDU
The Developing Art Patronage Networks in Uganda
village in Uganda into an arts tourism hub, bridging the gap between the arts and the community through residency programmes and the first East African sculpture park – the Weaverbird International Artist Village. In 2007, he also founded the pioneer visual art space Ivuka Arts Kigali, nurturing numerous talents who had since become some of Rwanda’s top artists.
istorically, Uganda has lacked the lasting art patronage networks that much of West Africa and Congo benefitted from through their political and economic strength, as well as through their precolonial ethnic history of masks and masquerades. This began to change with a growing economy during the 1990s, when Ugandan artists began to react more positively by experimenting with new motifs, textures and colours. And even though Uganda hasn’t yet had its own visibility at the Venice Biennale, save for Martha Kazungu, the Ugandan curator of the Zimbabwe pavilion, we are now seeing Ugandan contemporary artists putting Uganda on the map of international contemporary art.
Two skilled Ugandan visual artists who exhibit worldwide and have made it through to the 1:54 Contemporary Art Fair are Ian Mwesiga, who in London in 2018 focused on post-colonial African social identity; and Henry ‘Mzili’ Mujunga, who in New York this year revived African art through ‘indigenous expressionism’. Other painters who enjoy international exposure include Eria ‘Sane’ Nsubuga, Paul Ndema, and Donald ‘Waswad’ Wasswa. Eria ‘Sane’ Nsubuga recently participated in the group exhibition Itinerant Objects with the Winchester School of Art at Tate Modern, where he showed artworks connected to his PhD project Uganda Airlines: between invisibility and visibility, as well as at the Glocal Art Gallery in Denmark which featured ‘Uganda’s Best Artists’, confronting his viewers with human rights and political themes. Paul Ndema plays with satirical interpretations of Christianity in his art, whilst through his minimalist design artworks, Donald ‘Waswad’ Wasswa, the founder of the art collective Art Punch Studio, investigates the psycho-socio effects of rural-urban migration, worldwide refugee crisis, and neo-colonialism leading to immigration to the west. Printmaker Fred Mutebi also uses the art of printmaking to communicate complex societal and environmental issues.
Ugandans have created their own means of developing their artists and new audiences, through the Kampala Art Biennale, and when it comes to art galleries and art spaces in Uganda, the Afriart gallery is a prime example of pioneering and representing most top Ugandan artists. The 32° East art centre offers artists a unique platform for their art through the KLA Art festival and the Design Hub Kampala acts as a co-working hub and event space for creatives. Last month, at the height of his artistic career, Ugandan collage portrait artist Benon Lutaaya lost his life – at the time of his death, he had numerous awards under his belt. Known also for his philanthropic work, he founded the cultural institution The Project Space in South Africa. Collin ‘Secolli’ Sekajugo, a mixed media Ugandan-Rwanda artist who also paints and performs, is also steadily gaining global recognition with international representations and being inducted into collections such as that of the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, while at the same time pushing for a social transformation in Africa through his art and projects. He is known to have transformed what was once a small poor
Sheila Nakitende, The Queen’s Closet, 2017, mixed media
Unlearning, Collin ‘Secolli’ Sekajugo
This is Freedom, Collin ‘Secolli’ Sekajugo
The quintessential Ugandan artist who expresses himself through the widest range of media with embedded imagination has got to be Xenson. A painter, poet, performer, fashion designer, graffiti writer and installation artist
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Spotlight / Uganda / Africa June – July –‘19 UGANDA Continued
influenced by African art and culture, Xenson’s work typically explores concepts of identity and global circulation, with pre and post-colonial history in mind. Shelia Nakitende, a mixed media and performance artist, is working on a body of work using traditional materials and techniques to tackle processes of transformation through life’s experiences such as womanhood, motherhood, family, trauma and healing. And whilst most of his contemporaries are conveying a particular message through their art, mixed media artist Ronex Ahimbisimbwe is rather looking to draw out reactions from the public. The renowned ‘bead king’, Sanaa Gateja, uses recycled paper beads in his installation artworks, creating a livelihood for thousands of women and youth.
“ The quintessential Ugandan artist who expresses himself through the widest range of media with embedded imagination has got to be Xenson.”
Stacey Gillian Abe, featured as one of the youngest provocative African artists by This is Africa and Africa.com in 2016, is known to be advancing powerfully in her career as a photographer and a performance and installation artist, working on concepts around the themes of identity, cultural and spiritual mysticism. Photographic visual artist Canon Griffin Rumanzi, who has participated in various shows, biennales and photo festivals in and out of Uganda, co-founded the History in Progress Uganda platform of photographs of Ugandan streets and their slogans, whilst Kibuuka Mukisa Oscar’s lifelong project is that of photographing youth and the hip-hop culture in Uganda, winning the Uganda Press Photo Award in 2013/14. Art shows and exhibitions including Ugandan artists in Europe and beyond are developing. In May, we will be able to see Shelia Nakitende’s collaboration with Ghanaian artist Dorothy Amenuke at the Alpha Nova & Galerie Futura in Berlin, whilst her Legacy project for the ‘Makerere at 50’ exhibition will be exhibited at the Makerere University Art Gallery and at the Underground Contemporary Art Space in Uganda, in September and October. Eria ‘Sane’ Nsubuga will be exhibiting at the Winchester Gallery at the University of Southampton, in late September and in another group show in London organised by Jonah Batambuze later in the year. In December, mixed media artist Ronex Ahimbisimbwe will be exhibiting at the Village Market in Nairobi, Kenya, together with other Ugandan artists, Enoch Mukiibi and Tindi. Stacey Gillian Abe’s work as artist-in-residence is also much anticipated at The Bag Factory artist studios in Johannesburg, courtesy of the ABSA L’atelier 2018. Safety Features, Collin ‘Secolli’ Sekajugo, courtesy of the artist
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RICHARD ENGLAND is an architect, poet, artist and the author of several books on art and architecture. His buildings have earned him numerous International prizes and awards.
Comment/ Music / Architecture June – July –‘19 MUSIC
Music speaks to Architecture: Górecki + Pärt Richard England comments on two of his favourite modern composers; Henryk Górecki and Arvo Pärt
he Polish composer Henryk Górecki’s music started to attract international attention after the 1992 release of a recording of his Third Symphony – fifteen years after it was composed, with the soprano Dawn Upshaw on an Eletra Nonesuch label – became a world-wide commercial bestseller. The Symphony of the Sorrowful Songs, as it is known, is based on the libretto of a fifteenth-century lament and a prayer text that a teenage girl scratched on the walls of her Gestapo prison. Its lento music with Upshaw’s hypnotic lamenting pure-toned voice soaring ecstatically over the extended musical line provides an exhilarating, touching, deeply religious plea. This is music which, whenever I hear it, moves me intensely. It is a deeply sensuous and hypnotic composition of innate pathos, music to really touch one’s heart. The composer’s religious music Totus Tuus written to celebrate Pope John Paul II’s visit to his native land is also a mesmerizing a cappella choral piece, a near-perfect example of minimalist music with its characteristic contemplative stillness adding to its overall meditative atmosphere. Another Górecki composition which I find extremely moving is his 1981
produced by parallel facing mirrors. Pärt transposes the visual image duplications into multiple persistent tones. The music creates endlessly repeated themes, recurring as if reflected back and forth as in mirrored form. Yet, despite the repetitive theme, the music still emerges as melancholic and elegiac. Its haunting mood and manipulative structure has often been used as theme music for film and television sound tracks.
Miserere written in protest against the Communist government’s violence against the Solidarity Movement opposition. Again, it is an a cappella composition for a large mixed-voice choir. The theme abounds in a sacrality of singing, echoing old traditional Polish Church chants. It is interesting to note that Górecki uses only white key notes for this composition in order to produce a music which is pastoral, tranquil, and soothing. His work – based on the traditional music of his country – is always powerful, meditative, and emotional and is a music I often return to. Another composer whose minimalist, stark music, imbued with spirituality that never fails to move me, is that of the Estonian-born Arvo Pärt. His is a
music with roots deeply entrenched in Gregorian chant; a composer of extreme ascetic rigour, producing a music that is always pregnant with meditative and mystical stillness. Pärt himself describes his music as ‘tintinnabuli’, that is, like the ringing of bells. He utilizes this in his compositions Frates, Tabula Rasa, and Spiegel in Spiegel – a process that produces a music strangely both ancient and modern. Pärt always emphasises his quest that his works should communicate a rich ‘spiritual power’, which his music undoubtedly does. Spiegel in Spiegel (mirror in the mirror) is a particular favourite of mine since it also echoes my own fascination with mirrors. The piece is a musical interpretation of the infinity of images
Frates is another of Pärt’s compositions which I find mesmerising, a composition replete with changing themes, from the frenetic and frenzied, to the serene and soothing. Its mathematical repetitive structure is an excellent example of Pärt’s ‘tintinnabuli’ period of composition. His Miserere for soloist mixed choir ensemble and organ is a sober musical rendition of King David’s plea for mercy as recounted in Psalm 51. I love it for its silent pauses and the contrasting dramatic Dies Irae and also for the thunderous drum-rolls and the final extended long-drawn-out organ chord. Pärt has written, “I could compare my music to white light which contains all colours”. Listening to his music, I feel that the prism of light is indeed disentangled and that the multiple chromatic tones of his composition.
“It is enough when a single note is played beautifully.” Arvo Pärt PARIS
I M Pei Dies Aged 102 I M Pei, the architect behind the renowned Louvre pyramid, and remembered for a lifetime of designing iconic structures worldwide, has died at the age of 102. Ieoh Ming Pei was born in China and moved to the US at the age of 18, studying at MIT and Harvard, and founding his own architectural firm in 1955. Pei’s designs were influenced by his love of Islamic architecture, and were frequently envisioned in glass, steel and concrete. His style placed an emphasis on plain surfaces and natural light, using precision geometry to forge a modernist aesthetic with cubist themes. I M Pei was one of the 20th century’s most prolific architects, designing hotels, schools, and municipal buildings across Europe, North America, and Asia. The Louvre Pyramid, via wiki commons.
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Spotlight / Setouchi Triennale / Japan
June – July –‘19 JAPAN
Lost Islands Dedicated to the Arts The Japanese triennial breathing life back into these deserted islands in the centre of the Japanese archipelago.
Setouchi Girl’s Theatre, Shintaro Miyawaki
No One Wins, Kimito Takahashi, photo: Jasmina Llobet+Luis Fernandez Pons
Imagine boarding the Gozo ferry and being surrounded by contemporary art while approaching your destination. That is the impression you get when you take the 20 minutes’ crossing from Uno Port on Honshu/Japan to the “art island” of Naoshima. The ferry is generously decorated with framed pictures and collages, the colours of the seats are bright and the whole atmosphere uplifts your mind. This picturesque region of the Seto Inland Sea has become famous for the Setouchi Triennale, which started in 2010. The organisers tell us that this edition’s theme is the restoration of the sea and the revitalisation of the island communities that once thrived there. Naoshima, about a fifth of the size of Gozo, houses a number of contemporary art museums and site-specific installations. It was a mayor with foresight who, in 1988, developed the idea to turn the grounds of the Mitsubishi Central Smelting Works into the Naoshima Cul-
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Project for the Museum of Seabed Inquiry Ship, Katsuhiko Hibino, Setouchi
tural Village. He wanted Naoshima to be an ‘honest island’, without the pollution and industrial debris it then housed. With the support of Japan’s unconventional architect, Tadao Ando (b. 1941), the plan has materialised over the past decades. So the Ando Museum is a good starting point for the visit. It is a 100-year-old wooden house filled with Ando’s signature concrete interior elements; thus, the exhibition space combines old and new and introduces the Pritzker Prize-winner’s work. There are still more than 3,000 inhabitants in Naoshima and the best way to explore the island is by rental bike. On two wheels, you will pass well-kept dwellings and will quickly reach the first house of the Art House Project. Artists took over empty houses scattered about the residential area and turned the spaces into works of art, weaving the history and memories of the homes into their work. There is Haisha, the old
The Black Sea Bream of Uno - Yodogawa Technique, Chinu / Kochinu, photo: Yasushi Ichikawa
dentist’s house, as well as Minamidera, a building designed by Ando and appropriated by the light artist James Turrell. The Art House Project started in 1998 and now comprises seven houses. With each Triennale more places are added, while the Honmura Lounge in the middle of the island serves as a bookshop and Triennale archive. Naoshima is only one of 14 venues of the Setouchi Triennale. Other islands have been included to form The Sea of Hope – Oshima, for example, had previously served as a sanatorium for people with leprosy – and visitors can indulge in island-hopping across the different sites. The activities are divided into the Spring Encounters (April 26 to May 26), Summer Gatherings (July 19 to August 25) and Fall Expansions (September 28 to November 4). Theatre, dance and other performances enhance the festival programme, while volunteers lead guided tours that cover local food and
tea ceremonies. Artist Chiyoko Todaka (b. 1966) has participated in the Setouchi Triennale since its inception, and this year she redesigns her installation Teshima Sense. The island of Teshima was infamous for illegal and dangerous waste disposal, but inhabitants made the grounds arable again. Todaka has placed myriad transparent wings in an agricultural pond, and they float in pairs with the wind – the ephemeral existing in nature or society is her main concern. “Many spectators rest in contemplation and perceive the light and the air for a long time”, Chiyoko says of the work, “I am most interested in what has been discarded carelessly, forgotten and left behind”, she explains. “I feel captured and develop sympathy for these things. To find these values arrogantly neglected makes me angry. I see the value and beauty in them, which lead me to this work.” >>
GABRIELE SPILLER is a Swiss-German author and journalist who lives between Berlin and Gozo. She looks forward to playing a part in promoting Malta’s emerging art scene.
“Chiyoko Todaka has placed myriad transparent wings in an agricultural pond, and they float in pairs with the wind.” The Triennale committee provides some background to the project, saying that during the 1960s Japan underwent rapid economic growth, but that the development of large-scale industries in the Setouchi region exacted a heavy toll in the form of environmental pollution. The landscape and cultural legacy of the Seto Inland Sea reflects both the positive and negative aspects of humankind’s interaction with the natural environment. With people moving back
to inhabit some almost lost islands, defunct schools reopening, and with the introduction of art spots and the establishment of the Setouchi Triennale, there has been – to some extent – a reversed decline in the region. If you don’t make it to the Setouchi Triennale this year, the area is still well worth a visit. Among the Benesse art sites on Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima are a collection of contemporary art spaces
and architecture, the highlight of which is the Chichu Art Museum (art museum in the earth) in Naoshima, built mostly underground to avoid affecting the pristine scenery. Artworks by Claude Monet, James Turrell and Walter de Maria are on permanent display in the buildings, again designed by Tadao Ando. To make the experience complete, one should spend a night at the Benesse House Museum, a facility integrating a museum with a hotel and a sculpture garden at
the sea. The Benesse art sites are connected with a shuttle bus that also stops at the Lee Ufan Museum, a tranquil location in resonance with nature, inviting to meditation More information can be found on ww.setouchi-artfest.jp/en and www. benesse-artsite.jp.
MAESTRO MOON PHASE maestro collection
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KARIN GRECH is an Austrian-born teacher of English and a part-time sculptor with a passion for art and art history. She lives in Gozo and travels regularly to art shows and exhibitions around Europe.
Review /Australia / MONA
June – July –‘19 AUSTRALIA
A Refresher Course in Childhood The Museum of Old & New Art in Hobart,Tasmania
“As you descend the metal stairs and reach the bottom most level, you’d be forgiven for thinking you have arrived at a night club, not at a museum.” Tasmania is a long way to go to visit a museum. Nevertheless, the Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart (MONA) is one of the reasons why Tasmania’s visitor numbers have climbed to over a million per year, proving that I am not the only one who has visited Hobart as a museum destination. The owner of MONA is a local called David Walsh – a professional gambler turned art collector. He says he made his fortune by taking high risks and being lucky. He also says that he felt guilty about making so much money through what he calls an immoral activity, and so decided to build a museum. Walsh’s taste in art is radical and what he exhibits and commissions is often provocative – it’s his intention to get people talking, believing that controversy is good for business. The New Yorker dubbed him the “Tasmanian Devil”, and MONA “a loss-making Avantgarde museum at the end of the world”. Maybe that sounds too much like an American
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viewpoint, but with running costs three times the amount of his profit, Walsh still needs to make a lot of money by gambling to keep his museum operating and expanding.
as the name suggests – all about light. Light is also the main theme of James Turrell’s Amarna, an architectural outdoor space that transforms sunrise and sunsets into light installation spectacles.
MONA opened in 2011 with just two pre-existing modernist buildings above ground. The main exhibition halls are spread over 3 levels, all underground, cut deep into the Triassic sandstone on the banks of the River Derwent. In fact, the more spectacular way to arrive at the museum is by the fast river ferries from downtown Hobart. If you arrive by car you drive up to the museum through the adjoining winery. Either way, you will appreciate its fantastic location and take in some of the amazing outdoor art. There is Belgian conceptional artist Wim Delvoye’s Flatbed Truck – a symphony of Gothic filigree in laser-cut Corten Steel perched on the terrace overlooking the river; or American light and land artist Charles Ross’ rainbow-filled Spectrum Chamber that forms part of the recently added Pharos wing, which is –
The approach of presenting the collection is relaxed; and, like everything else about MONA, very different to the norm. The exhibition rooms are arranged in a random manner and it is up to every visitor to find their own way through them. Although MONA has originally been called the ‘museum of sex and death’, I found that this two-themed focus has been diluted, tending towards a wider thematic approach. Apart from the continuously changing permanent collection, the museum also curates at least two major exhibitions per year. MONA aims to shock. It is considered David Walsh’s megaphone (so the website tells us) and it is his capricious personality that he puts on display through it. His private parking spot is marked ‘GOD’; and you will come across explicit
signs asking visitors not to fornicate in the vineyards. The language in the texts provided via ‘The O’ – the hand-held device that provides all the information on the exhibits – can be rather coarse too. ‘The O’ is unique to MONA, it tracks your path through the museum, and provides information about the artworks in your immediate vicinity at the touch of its screen. ‘The O’ replaces conventional wall texts, hence MONA can keep the lighting in the galleries dim. In fact, as you descend the metal stairs and reach the bottom most level, you’d be forgiven for thinking you have arrived at a night club, not at a museum. Once you proceed past the cocktail bar you find yourself in front of bit.fall – an installation by Julius Popp – which explores the relationship between humans and technology. It is mesmerising: words which are sourced from actual search engines are formed out of water droplets and fall from a height of two stories in a computer-generated waterfall. >>
Art News / International June – July –‘19
Another good place to start your tour is the Sidney Nolan Gallery which houses Nolan’s Snake – a 46-metre-long undulating display of over 1600 panels in ink, dye and wax crayon on card. This monumental work, inspired by Aboriginal dreamtime, was the starting point for the architecture of the museum – the building was literally built around it. Meanwhile, one room is dedicated to Cloaca, another work by Delvoye. This is a mechanical digestive tract – ‘The O’ will provide you with its feeding times and, yes, you can also watch the machine defecate. MONA contains so many amazing exhibits, it is difficult to choose which to mention. Anselm Kiefer’s installation Sternenfall forms a bookcase with lead books that seem to be dissolving into a mass of glass shards whose jaggedness leaves you feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable. Pulse Room by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is made of sensors which
pick up your heartbeat and then light up 104 light bulbs in the rhythm of your heart pattern – providing a rather uplifting experience. The view of architectural reflections in the room that houses 20:50 by Richard Wilson, an installation of waist-high pools of recycled motor oil, is extraordinary and well worth queuing for. Wilson’s work forms part of the Pharos wing, which focuses on light art. All the exhibits here are of a superlative nature; personally, I find those by American light artist James Turrell to be the most compelling, transporting you into a different dimension. Turrell’s installations represent one big contradiction: by obliterating your senses they give you a sensory experience like no other. The entire wing is a mind-bending experience thatmaybe David Walsh himself describes best as a “refresher course in being a child”.
All of the above is obviously New art, so if you were wondering what the objects are that represent the ‘O’ in MONA, rest assured there are also antiquities, like Greek and Roman coins, Babylonian cuneiform tablets and many Egyptian artefacts including sarcophagi and mummies. MONA is all about experiences, yet it doesn’t limit itself to experiential art. This contemporary ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ is also about food – in restaurants where even the crockery and cutlery are art – and wine in decadent bars that comes from a vineyard which is overlooked by exclusive pavilion accommodation. There is a cinema and a research library housing 14,000 titles. There is even an actual wedding chapel on the grounds, another Corten steel art work by Wim Delvoye called a blasphemous temple.
a nude solstice swim and haunting performance art. No matter how much time you spend there, it does not seem to be enough. This was the first time I visited a museum that I did not want to sit down, let alone leave. If you are currently planning a trip to Australia, I suggest that you put MONA on your ‘to-see list’. If you aren’t, do the next best thing and find MONA online. Once you start reading about it you will find it difficult to let go of this – to put it once more in Walsh’s own words – “submersive adult Disneyland”. www.mona.net.au Follow Karin Grech on her art and culture blog called Bee Wise: www.bwiseaftertheevent.wixsite.com/aftertheevent and facebook/bwiseaftertheevent
Annual music and art festivals are sponsored by MONA and include events like
Rebuilding Plans for Heritage Buildings
The Design Prize 2019 Winners Announced
The golden Madonnina statuette designed by Antonio Arcò.
The fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, via Wikicommons
Both France and Sri Lanka have pledged to rebuild landmark buildings, following extensive damage by fire and a terrorist attack respectively. The massive fire that ravaged Notre Dame de Paris in April caused the 850-year old building’s spire and roof to collapse, however French President Emmanuel
Macron has vowed that the cathedral will be rebuilt. St Anthony’s Shrine in Colombo, dating from 1844 was also severely damaged in terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday; Sri Lanka’s Minister of Housing, Construction and Cultural Affairs announced that the church will also be rebuilt.
Milan’s official award program, The Design Prize 2019, was announced in April, celebrating the extraordinary design achievements of the past 12 months. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to world-famous designer Philippe Starck, while the prize for Communication went to Virgil Abloh – currently artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear collection. The prize for best designer went to Cypriot Michael Anastassiades, while Arturo Vittori of Warka Water was awarded the social impact prize. Winners were awarded the prize’s signature trophy, a golden Madonnina statuette designed by Antonio Arcò. Initiated by Designboom and Abitare magazine, the Design Prize is an annual award program that celebrates excellence on a global scale. www. designboom.com
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JANUARY 10 -25, 2020 WHERE /
30 CONCERTS IN 16 DIFFERENT VENUES C
THE 8TH EDITION OF THE VALLETTA BAROQUE FESTIVAL WILL ONCE MORE FEATURE TOP-NOTCH ARTISTS, BOTH FROM MALTA AND ABROAD, PERFORMING WONDERFUL MUSIC FROM MONTEVERDI TO BACH & BEYOND. MORE INFO
tickets for all your favorite cultural events
TICKETS AVAILABLE SOON!
Spotlight / Events / Malta June – July –‘19 VISUAL ART EXHIBITIONS
A selection of curated events in Malta + Gozo
06 - 08.19 Events until July
Until 28 June
Until 30 June 2019
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Until 13 September
Until 9 August
S A G RU U M UN DAN
Valletta Contemporary’s second exhibition of 2019 exhibition explores the complexities of the internet as a political space and the dynamics of governing information online. The show considers how information technologies have become instrumental in advancing some of the greatest challenges we are facing today; the deterioration of freedom of expression leading to the weakening of democratic foundations; the dissociation of publics furthering populist movements and authoritarianism; as well as widespread securitisation and the urgent need to create new points of entry and accessibility.
A collaborative exhibition in ceramics and collage that combines sacred images inspired by religious figures and the mundane represented by nature and the soil we walk on. Frances Ruijter works in collage, bringing together seemingly random imagery which organically connect. Taken as a whole, the images and pieces spontaneously evoke multiple archetypal narratives and symbolic scenes. Jeroen Hoekman’s work in ceramics ranges from classic forms to more experimental expressions. Even if objects seem to be made of alternative materials – wood, readymade materials, foam and plastics – clay can be found within (or outside) the work.
PORTRAITS: MY OWN H E T E R OT O P I A
THE S PA C E S T H AT C O NNE C T US
Where: Valletta Contemporary, Valletta Tuesdays to Fridays: 11:30am - 7pm Saturdays 11:30am - 5pm vallettacontemporary.com
Where: art..e Gallery, Victoria, Gozo Mondays to Sundays: 9.30am - 12.15pm Image: Rebirth, Frances Ruijter, collage, courtesy of the artist
Until 30 June 2019
The MFA in Digital Arts at the University of Malta is a practice-oriented, interdisciplinary programme that seeks to develop a learning environment in which historical traditions and new practices confront and influence each other within a contextual, cultural and theoretical framework. The students of the MFA in Digital Arts exhibit their final thesis projects; the fruit of 18 months of research and exploration, and the development of each student’s artistic practice. The students’ work is diverse, yet the concern with the digital is the common thread which runs through the group exhibition. Where: Spazju Kreattiv, Valletta Mondays: 9am - 5pm Tuesdays to Fridays: 9am - 9pm Saturdays & Sundays: 10am - 9pm www.kreattivita.org Image: Spazju Kreattiv, photo Elisa von Brockdorff
Image: Premium Connect, Tabita Rezaire, 2017
Maria Papacharalambous studies the theme of transformation, questioning the rigid lines of separation between artistic, philosophical and scientific research, in order to co-create social spaces of Eudaimonia – of good spirits and prosperity. Viewers are invited to enter a heterotopic space, where demons are transformed into positive traits. The soft sculptures presented have been created out of a wish to paint without using traditional painter’s materials. All the materials used have been found; collected over many years and sewed together to create an experience that harnesses the symbolic power of natural processes of transformation. Where: Spazju Kreattiv, Valletta Mondays: 9am - 5pm Tuesdays to Fridays: 9am - 9pm Saturdays & Sundays: 10am - 9pm
Artist Sara Cwynar creates images that interrogate what is at stake in a reality that is both physical and virtual, and where utopia has shifted from being an aim to just another name for storytelling in a commodified “post-truth” epoch. Her work focuses on how design, popular images and visual media strategies influence our identity and infiltrate our consciousness. As such, she explores everyday objects that accumulate in our homes and shops, archaeology, overlooked symbols of different societies and eras, commercial imageries, and the expanding effects of technology on our visual experience and social categories. Where: Blitz, Valletta Tuesdays to Fridays: 1pm - 6pm Saturdays: 10am - 1pm www.thisisblitz.com Image: Tracy (Gold Circle), Sara Cwynar
In March 2018, photojournalist Joanna Demarco and writer Ann Dingli travelled to Green Bank, West Virginia – a tiny region in America, home to the world’s largest fully steerable radio telescope. Its 200 or so inhabitants are prohibited from operating devices which function using radio transmissions that interfere with the radio telescope’s space exploratory work. The Spaces that Connect Us is an ongoing case study that seeks to understand a community that has been authoritatively distanced from a world of wireless communication. It examines the day-to-day realities of a largely internet-less existence, and searches for commonality with our own relationship with technology. Where: Valletta Contemporary, Valletta Tuesdays to Fridays: 11:30am - 7pm Saturdays 11:30am - 5pm vallettacontemporary.com Image: The Spaces that Connect Us, Joanna Demarco, courtesy of the artist
. PR E Z E N Z A
Young Maltese artists Emma Fsadni and Martina Camilleri have taken inspiration from a contemporary drawing masterclass with artist Caesar Attard, and collaborated to create Displacing. The collaborative piece moves away from the norms of an aestheticdriven society, revisiting the idea of human touch and sensation. Displacing will be on show at The Splendid in Valletta from 14 to 21 June.
2 8 .0 6.19
. Prezenza is a series of paintings by the artist Alex Dalli, curated by Roderick Camilleri. The exhibition marks different phases of the artist’s creative development, featuring a mix of early works with recent and current artistic production, portraying important existential stages of Dalli’s journey as an artist. Prezenza is at the . Art Galleries, Palazzo de la Salle, Valletta, from 28 June to 20 July 2019. www.artsmalta.org
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Spotlight / Events / Global June – July –‘19 PAINTING + SCULPTURE
06 - 08.19
A selection of art events from around the world
Events until January
17. 05. 1 9
2 9 .0 5 .1 9
0 8 .0 6 .1 9
STA N L E Y K UB R I C K : T H E EXHIBITION
WHITNEY B I E NN I A L
V I E NN A B I E NN A L E F O R CHANGE 2019: B R AV E N E W VIRTUES. S H A P I N G O UR D I G I TA L WO R L D
MOMENTUM 10 – THE NORD I C B I E NN I A L O F C O NT E MP O R A RY ART
KISS MY GENDERS
O L A F UR E L I A S SON IN REAL LIFE
Until 15 September
Until 22 September
Featuring about 700 objects, films, interviews, letters and photographs telling the story of Stanley Kubrick. Exploring his unique creative process, this exhibition includes a detailed model of the Centrifuge-set that Kubrick had developed for 2001: A Space Odyssey; film props such as the infamous Born-to-Kill helmet worn by Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket; costumes designed for A Clockwork Orange, and much more. The show provides an insight into Kubrick’s vastly creative mind through rare objects, projections and interviews exploring his relationship with London as his primary film location and source of inspiration.
Featuring 75 artists and collectives working in painting, sculpture, installation, film and video, photography, performance, and sound, the 2019 Whitney Biennial showcases the pulse of the contemporary artistic moment. Introduced by the Museum’s founder Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney in 1932, the Biennial is the longest-running exhibition in the US to chart the latest developments in American art. The Whitney Biennial is an unmissable event with participation from almost 100 American artists. It is curated by Jane Panetta and Rujeko Hockley, who have identified the most important and relevant work in the USA today. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Design Museum, London www. designmuseum.org
Image: 2001: A Space Odyssey, directed by Stanley Kubrick © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Image: Sensus Plenior, Steffani Jemison, 2017, film still
Until 6 October
The Vienna Biennale is the first event of its kind to combine art, design, and architecture to generate creative ideas and artistic projects to help improve the world. Its categoryspanning, interdisciplinary approach and combination of artistic ambition and the creative economy open up new perspectives on central topics of our time, promoting positive change in our society. The Vienna Biennale was established with the understanding that we are all living in a new modernity in which the digital revolution penetrates all areas of our life and is thus fundamentally changing our civilization. Various venues around Vienna www.viennabiennale.org Image: Noise Aquarium, Installation visualisation, © Noise Aquarium Collective
19th Serpentine Pavilion, Designed The 2019 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Japanese architect Junya Ishigami, will open on 21 June this year. Ishigami (b. 1974) is celebrated for his experimental structures that interpret traditional architectural conventions and reflect natural phenomena. He is known for designs with dream-like qualities that incorporate the natural world – including landscapes, forests and clouds – within an architectural practice that places humankind as part of nature. Ishigami’s design takes inspiration from roofs; his design is created by arranging slates to form a single canopy roof that appears to emerge from the ground of the surrounding park. Beneath the roof, the interior of the Pavilion is an enclosed cave-like space, a refuge for contemplation. For Ishigami, the Pavilion articulates his ‘free space’ philosophy in which he seeks harmony between man-made structures and those that already exist in
Until 9 October
Since its inception in 1998, Momentum has become established as one of the most exciting platforms for contemporary art in the Nordic region, making known the most important curatorial approaches defining the present moment in Nordic countries. Now celebrating its 10th edition with a programme including 29 international artists and presenting relevant new positions, the Biennial will also rediscover iconic works shown in previous editions. Curated by Marti Manen, this edition – titled The Emotional Exhibition – searches for a new non-vocabulary to express the complexity of human emotion.Moss, Denmark www.punkto.no
Until 8 September
Spanning the past 50 years, Kiss My Genders brings together over 100 artworks by more than 30 international artists who employ a wide range of approaches to articulate and engage with gender fluidity, as well as with nonbinary, trans and intersex identities. Working across diverse media, many of these artists move beyond a conventional understanding of the body, and in doing so open up new possibilities for gender, beauty and representations of the human form. The exhibition also extends beyond the gallery walls, with artworks in the Southbank Centre’s wider site. Hayward Gallery, London www.southbankcentre. co.uk Image: Untitled (Lil’ Marvel), Juliana Huxtable, 2015
Image: Mental Landscapes: Behind the Red Curtain, Fanny Ollas, 2018, ceramic & textile, courtesy of the artist
Until 5 January 2020
Olafur Eliasson returns to Tate Modern with a major survey of his career so far. The exhibition includes a selection of his captivating immersive installations. Some, like Beauty, recreate natural phenomena such as rainbows, while others involve reflections and shadows that animate the way we navigate or perceive the world. One area of the show will explore Eliasson’s deep engagement with social and environmental issues, such as his Little Sun project, which has brought light and income to people without electricity. The exhibition will continue outdoors, with an installation on the lawn around Tate Modern. Tate Modern, London www.tate.org.uk Image: Room for One Colour, Olafur Eliasson, 1997
nature. Ishigami is the nineteenth architect to design a temporary Pavilion on the Serpentine Gallery’s lawn in Kensington Gardens. The Serpentine Pavilion is open from 21 June until 6 October. More info on www.serpentinegalleries.org.
Serpentine Pavilion 2019, Design Render, Exterior View, © Junya Ishigami + Associates
Serpentine Pavilion 2019, Design Render, Interior View, © Junya Ishigami + Associates
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Interview / Malta / Sallyanne Morgan June – July –‘19 SCULPTURE
M A R G E R I TA P U L È
A woman, her skin burnished and polished to a pearl-white, sits on the ground, one leg over the other. In her hand, between her fingers is a beautiful, delicate glass feather. She holds the feather as if she doesn’t quite know what to do with it, and the expression on her face is one of resignation. This is Emily Dickinson’s Bad Day. A woman who should be composing poetry has been dealt a brittle, fragile hand; she is expected – expects herself – to write, but is unable to do so. The frustration which Emily Dickinson feels is a theme to which sculptor Sallyanne Morgan returns frequently. Her figures are ambitious in their efforts, but somehow their endeavours are always thwarted. Their frustrations, however, do not go sour. Rather, they stand, white and still, and accept their fate on our behalf. >>
The Unbearable Whiteness of Being “An angel wants to fly, and a poet wants to write, but the universe conspires against them, and they are frozen, suspended in their act of wishing.”
Sallyanne Morgan in her studio, photo: Nadette Clare-Talbot
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Flight is even more striking in its thwarted aspirations. A winged figure (is it an angel?) wants to fly. Desperately, she lunges forward, poised to leap into the sky. But alas, as we look around the figure, we see her wings are made of knives – feathers have become steel – and we realise she’ll never leave the earth. What is behind these figures who want so much, but who can’t leave the ground? I meet Sallyanne in her studio – surrounded by her work, and we talk about her practice and her inspirations. As she speaks about the development of her work, it’s clear that it’s very personal, wrought from her own experiences of life, and formed almost through a process of making sense of that life as it is lived. Sallyanne’s work unashamedly funnels her thoughts – her loss of belief, and a loss of trust in conventional and unconventional religions is evident in her work. There is anger in her work, but it’s an anger that is transcended, processed, and which comes out in something ironic, sometimes humorous and dignified. So much is expected of us – in particular as women – and we expect so much of ourselves, that we are setting ourselves up to fail and to be frustrated. An angel wants to fly, and a poet wants to write, but the universe conspires against them, and they are frozen, suspended in their act of wishing. Working almost exclusively in cement, Sallyanne creates figures that speak of this frustration, but does so always with a cheerful acceptance, and an irony. Here again, SallyAnne’s personality is evident in her work – she is good-natured and has an Irish dry sense of humour that naturally allows her to take any set-backs that life throws at her on the chin. There’s a rich sense of this irony in many of Sally-
anne’s works; My Angry Bunnies speaks of a frustration and impotence that comes from the heart, but its title, and the cartoon-like ‘bunnies’ that sit atop the figure are self-deprecating, saving the work from selfpity. The same sense of impotence is present in Flight VII; again, there’s a will to act, to speak, but the figures’ faces are covered by strange birdlike shapes; it’s not clear what is happening, but it’s clear that something is holding these figures back. And again, despite this frustration, the figures are calm, almost stoic. Using a ‘direct-cement’ method, Sallyanne builds up the works by hand, adding, carving away, scratching and burnishing to create white, marble-like figures whose polished finish bely the rough material of which they are made. Although she has worked in wood and metal, she works now almost exclusively in cement and in clay, preferring the directness and robust nature of these materials and the speed at which she can work with them. Her studio is dotted with experiments and maquettes, with beautiful pieces of wood stored under a shelf, along with marble dust and white cement patiently awaiting their turn. She speaks about her sculptures affectionately, referring to them as ‘she’ instead of ‘it’, as if in making them, she has brought them to life and given them a personality, which in a way, she has. As we talk, we acknowledge the irony of sculpting in cement, in a country where the material is in abundant use in a high-powered construction industry. But this about as far from cement as a building material as you can get.
their white surface that they almost look real. On one shoulder a Buddhist Mandala is placed, as if urging calmness and meditation. On another, a swallow flies, teasing perhaps, the figure who is unable to take flight. Most striking of all, are the tattoos on Touch (All the Broken Places), Sallyanne’s most serious work in this collection. A figure sits on a wooden chair, a sacred heart tattoo on her chest, a cross on one arm and praying hands on the other. She looks down at her lap, and at her open hands, which are covered in pieces of broken glass. Touch speaks of Sallyanne’s disillusionment with religious institutions; the satire in the use of the religions tattoos here is strong. Sallyanne has lived in Malta for some years, but after travelling the world and spending many years in Cambodia, she is now ready to return to her native Ireland. This collection of work – the last Sallyanne will create in Malta – reflects her experiences on a deeply personal level, but also illustrates universal frustrations and aspirations; we all want to fly, but sometimes it doesn’t quite work out. Flight & Other Stories: an exhibition of work by Sallyanne Morgan is on show from 14 June until 13 July at Lily Agius Gallery. 54 Cathedral Street, Sliema. Malta. For more information email info@ lilyagius-gallery.com and see www.lilyagiusgallery.com.
There are other materials in her work too; a shimmer of silver filigree, and a flash of kiln-formed glass. But perhaps most unexpectedly are the tattoos that are placed on her figures, blending so naturally with
Touch (All the Broken Places), detail, Sallyanne Morgan, photo: Nadette Clare-Talbot
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Art News / International / Save the Date
June – July –‘19 FRANCE
Lyon Biennale Announces New Venue
The old Fagor factory, Lyon. Photo: Blaise Adilon
The 15th Lyon Biennale will be curated by Palais de Tokyo, the curatorial collective who have envisioned this edition as an ecosystem where artworks and artists cultivate the art of permaculture, at the intersection of biological, economic and cosmogonic landscapes. This year’s Biennale – which will include the Lyon metro area as well as the entire region of Lyon – will be located at macLYON, and for the first time, at the post-industrial premises of the former Fagor factory. Around fifty artists have been invited to make site-specific works relating to the biennale’s post-industrial sites, drawing on the factory’s legacy and architecture, as well as its socio-economic context. The Biennale will again include a strand devoted to regional and international emerging artists and entitled “Young international artists/Biennale”, to be held at the Institute of Contemporary Art (IAC) in Villeurbanne. Associated exhibitions will also be held at other venues, including the Convent of La Tourette in L’Arbresle, the Bullukian Foundation in Lyon, and the international Centre of Printmaking and Books (URDLA) in Villeurbanne. Concurrently, Résonance will host 200-plus projects led by artists’ collectives, art and architecture schools, galleries and cultural institutions around the region. The 15th Lyon Biennale will take place from 18 September 2019 to 5 January 2019. www.labiennaledelyon.com.
Multidisciplinary Festival in Tunisia
MICAS Summer Celebration
With Tunisian and international artists working intensively with local communities, Dream City has built a reputation for experimental and performative contemporary art. The festival weaves the contemporary and the intimate together during a 10day site-specific programme. Save the date for Dream City Tunis 4 – 13 October 2019. www.dreamcity.tn from Un-Marry Me, Tania El Khoury, Dream City 2017
Still from Un-Marry Me, Tania El Khoury, Dream City 2017
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Malta International Contemporary Art Space celebrates summer on 21 June with an art talk at MUZA by Edith Devaney, contemporary curator and head of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. This will be followed by the launch of Jumpstart: An Incomplete Timeline at Castille Square. Those interested in attending should register on email@example.com. More info on www.micas.art
GIULIA PRIVITELLI holds an M.A. in History of Art, and is presently Assistant Editor at Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti. She is also a freelance writer, regularly contributing culture-related articles to various local newspapers, magazines and blogs.
Spotlight /Malta / Art Auction June – July –‘19 MALTA
Fragments from a Collection “Listed in the auction catalogue were, for example, works by Antoine Camilleri, Emvin Cremona, Norbert and Caesar Attard, Isabelle Borg, Neville Ferry, Paul Carbonaro, Giuseppe Arcidiacono, Clifford Arpa, and several others, including internationally-renowned artists such as Whistler, Paul Klee and Henri Matisse.”
means to connect with artists, to encourage them and propel them onwards. Collecting art is a way of entering a silent conversation of sorts with artists, irrelevant to time, space, culture, or even language. And that conversation is highly intimate, for its meaning is tightly wrapped up in the exchange between the collector and the artwork, with or without the presence of the artist.
The majority of us – myself included – do not have such a privilege. At best, we may be introduced to the man, his life and philosophy, from a distance – that is, mostly through books, articles, a mention in some conversation, and especially through his own personal archive and collection. Indeed, the latter is the surest way for discovering untold facets of the man, perhaps hidden and unknown even by those closest to him.
Considering the current sway of things – ephemeral and mostly short-lived – collecting could easily come across as a largely counter-cultural act. Although not synonymous with the act of “preserving”, at least from a conservator’s point of view, to collect, nonetheless, keeps the desired object from being lost and funnelled down the untamed, uncertain, and collective stream of history, ironically enough. “Every passion borders on the chaotic,” Benjamin tells us, “but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories”. Thus, in collecting, the object is fished out from this great ocean of ‘chaos’, consciously chosen for uncontested personal reasons, and loved or given to be loved and remembered. What is judged beautiful and of value, or what is considered priceless by the prevailing age, does not apply. To the owner, all sorts of criteria are revised because the object’s value ceases to be an apparent (or numerical) one; condition matters less, especially once the object forms part of the collection. The permanence of the object – and by extension, of the collection – is in that it cannot be replaced or forgotten as it is itself a vessel of memory in which, to some literal extent, the owner invests some part of his or her life, and passion, in. It is perhaps, what Walter Benjamin meant when he wrote that it is “not that they [the collected objects] come alive in him; it is he who lives in them”, and for the same reason, why “the phenomenon of collecting loses its meaning as it loses its personal owner”.
ew are the people active in the Maltese art scene who are not familiar with the name of the late Dennis Vella. Of course, those who knew him personally, who were touched by his personality, intellect, and passion for art, have no difficulty in asserting his legacy to the Maltese modern and contemporary art world. You would hear several of his closest friends, acquaintances and colleagues describe him as a ‘pillar of art’, in admiration of his significant contribution to modern and contemporary art in Malta, arguably at a time when there was no one on the Island who was as knowledgeable in the field as he. Yet, it was his personality, rather than simply his commitment to art, that would colour the memories of those who knew him most intimately.
Dennis Vella’s commitment to the twentieth-century Maltese art scene extended well beyond his role as art historian, lecturer, art critic or as curator of modern and contemporary art at the then National Museum of Fine Arts. Like some Maltese equivalent to the highly influential British art historian and museum director, Baron Kenneth Clark, within limits of course, Vella was one of the leading promoters of young and budding artists, encouraging them to study, to take their art seriously and boldly. Importantly, he would listen to them; he would travel, work, and invest extensively in them, as well as in international artists, gradually building his own large private collection of works of art. Private collections carry with them a particularly indispensable value. Walter Benjamin writes extensively about this particularly in an article called ‘Unpacking my Library’ published in his collection of essays, Illuminations. Here he describes ownership as “the most intimate relationship that one can have to objects.” It is this intimacy, the conscious choices of the owner, that reveals something further about the person. Vella chose to invest, especially, in Maltese modern art and that which was contemporary to his time. A recent Antiques and Fine Arts auction held at Obelisk Auction House in Attard, comprising of forty-five artworks from his private collection, clearly reveals this. Listed in the auction catalogue were, for example, works by Antoine Camilleri, Emvin Cremona, Norbert and Caesar Attard, Isabelle Borg, Neville Ferry, Paul Carbonaro, Giuseppe Arcidiacono, Clifford Arpa, and several
others, including internationally-renowned artists such as Whistler, Paul Klee and Henri Matisse. Admittedly, it is, perhaps, only on rare occasions that the truly ‘great masterpieces’ – defined as such by an impersonal and somewhat disembodied art world – will appear in auction sales. When they do, however, their sales reach incomprehensible sums, and naturally, like some eclipse of absurdity, stunts the listening world. Suffice to recall that jaw-dropping moment when the counter ticked over 450 million dollars during the historic Christie’s sale of da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi; each red digit slashed and cut a little deeper into my ignorance of the contemporary art market. For Vella, collecting art was not some indulgent undertaking. What led him to invest in art was not the vision of some auction house and those red-digit counters, increasing with every raised hand; but rather his vision of the deeper value of an art collection – as a
Here, we step into difficult territory. For how is a collection meant to live on once the owner passes away, without it becoming a shrine of sorts, maintained by those who are not yet able to let go? The passionate flame that once built the collection in the first place is spent. It no longer burns, if not similarly in other hearts. Passion does indeed play an important part in all of this. For the same reasons that artists keep creating, collectors keep collecting till the day they are forced to stop, which is a death of its own kind anyway. One can say that a man like Dennis Vella died at least two deaths – the day he stopped collecting, and the day cancer had its final say. A decade after his passing, his once private collection is now being passed on to the public. And with the object itself, his views, investments, connections, values, his loves, his passion, also live and are passed on – no longer as something concentrated in one personal collection, but as fragments which will hopefully serve to build several others.
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From Venice with Love
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Jesse Darling, March of the Valedictorians, (2016) within the main exhibition of the 58th Venice Art Biennale, May you live in interesting times, curated by Ralph Rugoff
Spotlight / Biennale / Venice
June – July –‘19
LISA GWEN BALDACCHINO holds a first degree in History of Art and a Masters in Cultural Heritage Management. She is a freelance curator and writer for art and design events.
Spotlight / Biennale / Venice June – July –‘19 VENICE
ith this year’s Venice Biennale eliciting delight, excitement and controversy, we sent Lisa Gwen Baldacchino to explore the Arsenale and Giardino, charged with picking out her highlights from this edition.
It’s not easy weaving and meandering through Venice: all the narrow roads, inundated with eager tourists, the narrow bridges at once conjoining the canals and islands… Venice during the Biennale period, is on overdrive.
Neither Nor: The challenge to the Labyrinth, curated by Milovan Farronato and featuring work by Enrico David, Chiara Fumai and Liliana Moro makes up the Italian Pavilion this year.
The Romanian Pavilion - Unfinished Conversations on the Weight of Absence – features the work of artists Bleu- Simion Fainaru, Dan Mihaltianu, and Miklós Onucsán. The pavilion is curated by Cristian Nae. Dan Mihaltianu presents a black, shallow and slick pool, which reflects the pavilion and its visitors. Occupying most of the main exhibition hall, the large ‘oil spill’ doubles up a wishing well complete with shiny pennies.
The Maltese Pavilion - Maleth / Haven / Port - Heterotopias of Evocation, is curated by Hesperia Iliadou Suppiejand, and features the work of Vince Briffa, Klitsa Antoniou and Trevor Borg. The Maltese pavilion leaves a lasting impression; the three-part, multi-sensory experience is neatly woven, balanced and immaculately curated. The intermingling of sound, texture, light and shadow, as well as the spatial distribution of each piece, is goose-bump inducing.
The city becomes one giant, never-ending, labyrinthine series of galleries, exhibitions, installations, collateral events and projects. And yet, it’s all strangely alluring. The slow-paced motion of the vaporetti, in sharp contrast to the pace at which one physically tries to ‘keep up’ with some form of agenda; the constant feeling of being on water, that gentle inner rocking to-and-fro, which lingers long after leaving your designated boat, somehow reflects the unison of the collective mass of people invading every inch of space.
The Indian Pavilion - Our Time for a Future Caring - focuses on the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi. Seven artists’ work feature in the pavilion: Nandalal Bose, Atul Dodiya, GR Iranna, Rummana Hussain, Jitish Kallat, Shakuntala Kulkarni, and Ashim Purkayastha. Curated by the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in New Delhi, the pavilion features paintings, sculptures, photography, and mixed-media works. The most impressive work in the pavilion is Jitish Kallat’s, fogscreen projection installation - Covering Letter together with GR Iranna’s mural installation of paduka sandals.
The Biennale is but a portion of this – and during the preview period, artists, curators, cultural professionals and collectors come together to see, and be seen. Problem is, it’s hard to see and experience the actual art. Properly, that is. Without having to queue in the sun for an hour or so. Without having to wait behind crowds to catch a glimpse of an installation and perhaps read the subtitles. Without having mild fits of claustrophobia. But perhaps, that’s just me. Jealously seeking out the quiet corners, the in-between spaces, the pauses amidst the craziness. Maybe I don’t know how to experience and digest art with so many other spectators alongside me. Maybe this is just a first reading. Yet with Venice, one reading is never going to suffice.
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Art News / International / Art Market
Sydney Art Fair Coming Soon
Icons of Glamour & Style: The Constantiner Collection
Sydney Contemporary, Australasia’s international art fair, returns in 2019 with the country’s largest and most diverse gathering of local and international galleries. With almost 100 galleries Australia-wide, the art fair also includes Installation Contemporary, ex
hibiting large-scale innovative and site-specific works in a diverse range of media.
Call me by my Name, Abdul Abdullah, 2018, manual embroidery made with the assistance of DGTMB Studio
Kaokao, Robert Jahnke, 2017 - 2018, powder coated mild steel, powder coated aluminium, mirror pane glass, neon
Art Scammer Sentenced
Save the date for Sydney Contemporary 12 – 15 September’19. www.sydneycontemporary.com.au
Art-world scammer Anna Sorokin, who formerly went by the name of Anna Delvey was, in May, found guilty of grand larceny and theft of services. The month-long trial and conviction came after Sorokin’s elaborate role-playing as a wealthy German heiress finally unravelled in 2017. Presenting herself as a wealthy art collector, and founder of the Anna Delvey Foundation, Sorokin drew international media attention when her activities came to light.
19 JUNE 2019 | CHRISTIE’S | PARIS Christie’s offers photographs assembled by New York collector Leon Constantiner that celebrate glamour, elegance and idealised beauty. The first sale, held at Christie’s New York in 2008, presented works from his collection creating a landmark event in the photography auction market. The works now on sale – which feature the treasures that Constantiner kept back to enjoy just a little longer – focus again on emblematic figures such as Helmut Newton, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts and Peter Lindbergh, whose reputations were made through the printed page, and whose work is today highly prized by collectors in the form of spectacular prints. The sale of some of the 20th century’s most iconic images of glamour and style takes place in Paris on 19 June. www.christies.com
Andy Warhol with Edie Sedgwick & Chuck Wein, Burt Glinn, 1965, gelatin silver print,
Carmen (Face Massage), Horst P Horst, 1946, gelatin silver print,
Est: €3k - €5k
Est: €8k - €12k
Sorokin’s adventures included stays at luxury hotels in New York, a holiday in Morocco (leaving an unfortunate friend to foot a huge bill), and extravagant meals in top restaurants. When credit cards that Sorokin was using were repeatedly declined, she was detained and eventually charged. Following a prison term, Sorokin is expected to be deported, having exceeded her visa-required leave to remain in the USA. Anna Delvey aka Anna Sorokin, annadelveyfoundation.org
Round the clock, Horst P Horst, 1987, platinum palladium print,
Untitled, from the series ‘The Sartorialist’, Danziger Projects, Scott Schuman, 2007,
Est: €15k - €20k
Est: €10k - €15k
© Christie’s Images Ltd
June – July –‘19
€306.2 million Contemporary Sale at Sotheby’s New York The season-ending auction at Sotheby’s in New York in May brought in €306.2 million in one evening. While the result was not unexpected, the sale ranks as the 11th-most-expensive contemporary art evening sale in history, with eight lots exceeding €9 million, two topping the €44 million mark, and seven artist records made during the evening.
Study for a Head, Francis Bacon, 1952
Study for a Head, by Francis Bacon, dating from 1952, sold for €45 million, a higher than expected price. A 1960 Untitled by Mark Rothko, being deaccessioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to raise funds in order to diversify its collection, sold for €44.8 million. Judd Tully for www.artnews.com
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Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder & Stephanie Seymour, for American Vogue, Brooklyn, New York, Peter Lindbergh, 1991, gelatin silver print, ©Peter Lindbergh, courtesy Peter Lindbergh, Paris Est: €70k - €100k
25% DISCOUNT DURING JUNE
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Spotlight /UK / Cindy Sherman June – July –‘19
Untitled Film Still #54, Cindy Sherman, 1980. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York
F I N N B LY T H E
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Arriving at the National Portrait Gallery at the end of June, the first UK career retrospective of American artist Cindy Sherman will explore four decades of her work, from the seminal Untitled Film Stills series (1977-80) to the present day. Since she emerged in the late seventies, alongside like-minded artists like Robert Longo, Sarah Charlesworth, Barbara Kruger and Sherrie Levine (a group subsequently known as The Picture Generation), Sherman has consistently questioned issues of representation and gender in mass media while assuming the role of artist and model in her own work. Along with her contemporaries, Sherman re-appropriates popular culture as a means of critical parody, adopting the mise-en-scène of glossy magazines, advertising and cheap B-movies to investigate the blurred separation between artifice and reality. In an age of selfies, where self-representation is commonplace, Sherman’s works are both prescient and influential in how they straddle binaries of subject and object, subtlety and brutality, candour and voyeurism, attraction and repulsion. More than ever, her work reminds us of the way popular culture, and its coded ideological
FINN BLYTHE is Junior Features Editor at HERO + HEROINE magazine based in London, writing about art, film and music.
Spotlight /UK / Cindy Sherman June – July –‘19 LONDON
“More than ever, her work reminds us of the way popular culture, and its coded ideological conventions, informs our own everyday construction of reality.” conventions, informs our own everyday construction of reality. Shown in the UK for the first time, Untitled Film Stills comprises 70 monochrome images of the artist in various disguises, initially shot in her New York apartment and then outside in urban locations with the assistance of Longo. These modestly sized photographs, which launched Sherman’s career, see her shape-shift into a series of stereotypical female character tropes as represented in both American and European cinema throughout the fifties and sixties. From librarian and school girl, to femme fatale, hillbilly and vixen, the images replicate the lighting, angle and poise of conventional film stills while implicating a familiar, if unspoken, narrative. Always alone, Sherman’s heroines display an undercurrent of anxiety, their faces, caught between melancholy and silent contemplation, suggest internal anguish. These generic icons both parody the dominant depiction of the female and reflect a search for identity while most importantly, suggesting the idea of femininity as a masquerade. In doing so, the series acts as a critique of Western art and the aesthetic vocabulary of popular culture as satisfying a voyeuristic
male gaze. The guises offer little insight into the character of these women, they are presented as fetishised, passive and ever-available objects. Elsewhere, the exhibition includes Sherman’s 1981 commission for Art Forum, Centerfold, a pastiche restaging of men’s magazine pin-ups with the artist adopting the role of sultry and vulnerable seductresses. Though they were ultimately rejected by the magazine’s editors for their perceived ambivalence (one photograph of a dishevelled blonde woman in bed with the sheets pulled under her chin was interpreted as suggestive of rape), the power of these coloured works is their implicit ability to reflect the viewers’ own desires. Their connotative nature plays on the viewers’ acquired receptiveness to the visual codes of mass produced imagery. In projecting our own narrative beyond the single frame snapshot, the image reveals the way invisible structures of representation, perpetuated by films and consumerist advertising, have come to shape our everyday reality. Like Untitled Film Stills, Centrefold frames femininity through a voyeuristic lens, these are women to be looked at, though their sexuality is somehow muted, coupled with an innocence that suggests awk-
ward teen insecurity. Where they differ, the soft, interior colours and repeated horizontal format of Centrefold fail to accentuate the vulnerability of Film Stills, in which Sherman is presented at odds with the environment, susceptible to its dangers. Also included in the show are Sherman’s Sex Pictures, a series created in response to America’s Culture War of the 1990s, in which liberal progressives and conservative traditionalists fought for the moral identity of America. Amidst fierce ideological conflict on issues ranging from gun control to abortion, LGBT rights and state censorship, Sherman’s 1992 series came to the defence of artists like Robert Mapplethorpe and Andres Serrano who were identified by conservatives as key instigators in America’s moral collapse. Unlike the majority of her oeuvre, Sherman takes herself out of frame for Sex Pictures, instead using dismembered doll parts, masks and prosthetic genitalia to stage dark scenes suggestive of mutilation and sexual exploitation. In their twisted and contorted corporeal states, the images are redolent of German Surrealist Hans Bellmer’s life-sized pubescent dolls. Bellmer’s work subverted the idea of a child’s toy while sug-
gesting a corruption of innocence. Sherman’s images on the other hand serve as a critique of hard-core pornography and an ever-growing cultural obsession with sex and violence. Like Bellmer, Sherman’s dolls waver between seduction and repulsion, sadistic and fetishistic, accentuating features most conducive to the male gaze. In one, the prone figure of a naked doll strikes a familiar pinup pose with hands clasped behind its head. The doll bears the face of an old woman and its legless hips reveal a gaping vagina while its torso is reduced to breasts and a swollen stomach. The image succeeds in highlighting both a social discomfort with overt sexuality and the objectifying nature of pornography, thereby extending as a protest against liberal ‘political correctness’ and conservative censorship. More generally, the images continue Sherman’s investigation into the representation of femininity in mass media, proving, as she had done so already, the ease with which we conflate fantasy and reality. Cindy Sherman is on at the National Portrait Gallery, London 27 June – 15 September 2019.
Untitled Film Still #54, Cindy Sherman, 1980. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York
Untitled Film Still #15, Cindy Sherman, 1978. Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York
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ANN DINGLI is a freelance art and design writer, content consultant, and media strategist currently living in London. She writes and edits for various cultural publications and runs her own design blog, I think I like it (think-like-it.com).
Comment / Art Influencers
June – July –‘19 ONLINE
ANN DINGLI >> The art of influencers, the influencers of art Continued from cover The Art Newspaper declared the show “Essential viewing”. The New York Times threw words like “transcendent” and “sublime” into the fold. And what with it being the artist’s first full American retrospective in 31 years, it promised to be – at a minimum – diverting; specifically, for people who are ardently, if clichédly, enamoured with every breath of Warhol’s work – of which I am one. The Whitney never feels like an expansive space. It lacks the broadness of Tate Modern’s uniform halls or MoMA’s sightlines through parallel exhibition rooms. And on this particularly arctic day during New York’s cruelly cold winter, with what seemed like the entirety of the city’s population and their friends in attendance, it felt tinier than ever. Nevertheless, my friends – who were visiting the city during this low-season – and I held tightly onto our tote bags and endeavoured to breach the crowds. Remarkably, once we had reached the show’s second room, the masses dissipated. Finally, we thought, we can look at everything we already know and love about Warhol’s work but rarely get to see all at once. This, our inner voices persisted, would be bliss. But it never quite got to that exhibition sweet spot, where your brain wells up with thoughts and wonder, and you promise yourself you’ll spend the night “reading more” about what you’ve seen but inevitably devote it to binging on both food and Marie Kondo. Conversely, after having succeeded in navigating through the thicket of humanity, we repeatedly encountered what felt like its antithesis – influencers. Every fifth work of art was flanked by a hot-panted, fur-coated, lip-pouting living mannequin, complete with camera-carrying friend or partner squatting tirelessly for a comical amount of amateur photo-taking time. It was disastrous. We couldn’t see the art for the methodically bent elbows and knees, the fluffy hoods inside a weather-less space, the rusty fake tans, the stares into
middle-distances. How had the influencer succeeded in leaving the confines of our brunch restaurants to make their caustic way into the historically impenetrable gallery space? Perhaps this had been a long time coming, but nevertheless I left the exhibition with my brain twitching for what seemed like all the wrong reasons. It felt like the most elitist of dystopias – a world where social media influencing had begun a process of socially commodifying yet another one of our implicit activities. It had been done with eating, reading, exercising, even sleeping. But gallery-going? How had we let it get this far? A few nights later, after recounting the experience to at least five people who had less than negligible interest in the issue, I met someone who worked in marketing, with a direct speciality in social media influence strategy. We spoke at length about the inflated price tags set by influencers, about how marketers only serve to swell those numbers exponentially, and how we both thought it would inevitably all become the proverbial bubble that burst. But, truthfully, I was finding it hard to keep at bay a creeping sensation that this new art-influencer phenomenon might not be the worst thing ever. In Britain alone, visitor numbers at cultural attractions, including museums, increased by nearly 9% in 2018, and this happened despite a decrease in numbers of overseas tourists. Curators, directors and strategists from such high-profile institutions as the Hayward Gallery, the New Museum, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum acknowledge the intense change that “an experience-based economy” is having on the way museums and galleries are experienced and ultimately consumed. In short, it’s impossible to deny that Instagram and the selfie-mongering it proliferates can at times be an asset to even the most sacredly arty of places. And that is another important factor which influencers may be helping to break down. By ‘that’ I mean the
dogged, subconscious insistence that the art gallery and museum have to be sacred spaces. The unspoken aura within those spaces that only certain people can dwell here. The undeniably privileged audience – whether financially or intellectually – have been privy to an exclusive gallery-going experience since the dawn of the museum’s creation. Influencers might just be hailing a new era where everyone is actually – not just superficially via a line of copy on a museum website – welcome. Do influencers actually have that kind of power, you might ask? According to the girl I met at a restaurant (who is a source as good as any), yes, they most definitely do. According to actual empirical evidence – think of heavy-weight British art dealer Brett Gorvy and his savvy Insta-trading, as well as the herd of artists who have cut out the dealer middleman and are selling their work directly via Instagram. These people are demonstrably adding new meaning to the art market. It happens. It’s happening. So, if influencers can act as living, posing catalysts for driving new, diversified crowds into spaces for art, then maybe my initial poo-pooing of their presence besides some of my favourite works belongs to what should by now be a bygone era. If it takes a barelegged teen to get another teen who might have otherwise stayed away to understand the way in which Warhol cut through the commercial soul of humanity and displayed it so ingeniously throughout his entire career – I guess I’m game. All I ask is that they stand a little bit to the side, so as to not obscure the actual art. Or perhaps museums and galleries could become even more savvy and introduce influencer hours, akin to member hours, complete with ring lights and outfit changes. Somehow, we have to learn to co-exist and work to ensure that the gallery experience retains its impact to each and every person that enters into its white walls – whether they endeavour to art-selfie or not. One thing is for sure, Warhol would have loved this.
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Art News / Campari / Malta June – July –‘19 MALTA
C A M PA R I / N E G R O N I
Artists express their imagination in Negroni 100th anniversary art competition
stunning pouch, bespoke jewellery, vivid digital art, striking acrylic paintings and colourful ceramics are just a few of the numerous entries submitted in the open art competition launched by Campari to celebrate it’s 100th anniversary of the iconic cocktail Negroni. Launched earlier this year and organised in collaboration with Allura - Malta Open Art Studios, the competition called for established and up-and-coming artists to design an original, eclectic and inspired artwork which encapsulates the spirit of Negroni – balance, simplicity, but with an original twist. After a lengthy process, the judges – all experts in their respective fashion and art background – selected Gabriella Lukacs’ tailored pouch as the winner of the competition. Using recycled material and aptly titled Revive, its shape and colours reflect the stylish elegance and panache Negroni symbolises. Christine Porter Lofaro scooped second place with her exquisite painting As they flow, whilst JAD Jewellery came in third with their masterful neckpiece which exhibited all the different elements that complete the classic Negroni drink. The fourth place was awarded to Jana Frost who combined photo-collaging and digital vector illustration to present a classic yet modern take on the theme.
The fifth finalist was Zack Ritchie whose digital interpretation The Dance of Negroni takes the form of a call to connect, socialise and celebrate in true Campari fashion. The Campari Malta Artist 2019 winner together with the other finalists will have their work used for Campari Negroni promotional material throughout 2019, besides being prominently displayed during various major art and fashion events happening in Malta during this year. Considered to be one of the most famous Italian cocktails in the world, Negroni was invented in 1919 by Count Negroni, who asked to add a touch of gin rather than soda to his americano, in honour of his last trip to London. Negroni’s fascination stems from the fact that it is an equally balanced drink, made from three equal parts: one-part Gin, onepart Campari and one-part Cinzano Vermouth Rosso. Described as a ‘long drink in a short glass’, every Negroni created is an artwork in itself, made to be enjoyed and shared with others.
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Books / Kay Nielsen June – July –‘19 MALTA
Book: Kay Nielsen’s A Thousand and One Nights
n the late 1910s, in a Europe ravaged by World War I, Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen put the finishing touches on his illustrations of A Thousand and One Nights. The results are considered masterpieces of early 20th century illustration: bursting with sumptuous colours of deep blues, reds, and gold leaf; evoking all the magic of this legendary collection of IndoPersian and Arabic folktales, compiled between the 8th and 13th centuries.
retreated from Nielsen’s project and the publication never materialised. A rising star, Nielsen moved on to other work, and the spectacular pen, ink, and watercolour images of this world heritage classic remained under lock and key for 40 years. Published just once in the 1970s, the illustrations were rescued from oblivion after Nielsen’s death in 1957 and are now held by the UCLA Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Art Institute of Chicago, and in two private collections.
In the financially strapped postwar climate however, publishers
Published for the first time ever in five colours including gold, this
unique presentation of fine art prints revives all 21 strikingly beautiful illustrations reproduced directly from Nielsen’s original watercolours - the only complete set of his beloved illustrations to have survived. Each illustration is presented individually in an extra-large format and on fine art paper, allowing Nielsen’s graphic mastery and rich array of influences, from Art Nouveau to Japanese woodcuts to Indian painting, to dazzle.
essays on the making of this series, the origin of Nielsen’s unique imagery, and a history of the tales. In addition, the accompanying book features many unpublished or rarely seen artworks by Nielsen, as well as all 23 of the incredibly intricate black-and-white drawings Nielsen also created for the original publication. Kay Nielsen’s A Thousand and One Nights costs €250 with free shipping to Malta. www.taschen.com
The set includes a 144-page hardcover book also printed in five colours, featuring a description of each image, and three generously illustrated
“This stunning collector’s item unfolds like Scheherazade’s tales: a blue velvet box opens on to a giant crimson envelope with watercolour prints and a black-gold volume of stories set in Byzantine palaces beneath starlit skies.” — Financial Times, London
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Big Bang One Click Marc Ferrero Steel Red. Developed with the storytelling artist Marc Ferrero. Case in stainless steel. Bezel set with a gradation of 42 spinels. Black lacquered dial with multicolour printed ÂŤLipstickÂť design. Selfwinding movement. Red calf on rubber strap. Limited edition of 50 pieces.