Valletta’s City Gate has been rebuilt three times and is currently undergoing yet another renaissance. The last gate, dating back to the 1960s, is making way for a new entrance designed by world-famous architect Renzo Piano.
As a result of this transformation, new areas of interaction between the people and the city itself are being created.
Popular perception of the identity of Valletta today is ambiguous as a result of its continuous development from a fortified city into an urban capital.
Following the Great Siege of 1565, Francesco Laparelli, the mastermind behind the blueprint of Valletta, created a fortress city that has subsequently been modified, improved and, in some places, demolished. This is perhaps best epitomised by the evolution of Valletta’s main entrance, each subsequent transformation of the area not only expressing a new architectural vision but also a contemporary positioning of the city in its own history.
Bettina Hutschek’s experimental documentary entitled City Gate – a diary of demolition was commissioned by Maltese architectural firm Architecture Project, to explore the formation of space not only through building but also through removal. The film aims at understanding the interaction created and modified – at various stages of the project – between the building, the public and the city. It shows, from various angles, the successive removal of the gate, and provides a subjective approach to city memory and oblivion that establishes a historic link between Valletta’s past and future.
The project was made possible by the support of the Malta Arts Fund, Telesystems, Steel Structures and BIB Joint Venture.
German video and performance artist Bettina Hutschek has been working since 2004 on the topic of urban environments, cityscapes, their transformation through time and the impact of architecture on the collective memory. Over the last seven years she has been involved with a series of city portraits and film projects dealing with the perception of urban space and the inscription of these spaces onto collective and individual memory.
In 2010, Ms Hutschek spent several months in Valletta, working on a photographic series of marble memorial tablets in St John’s co-Cathedral and a video project about Malta’s Neolithic temples.
‘City Gate – a diary of demolition’ will be screened at 4, Sappers Street, Valletta between 2 and 16 March (Mon-Thu. 10am-4pm, Fri. 10am-1pm). For more information visit www.ap.com.mt, www.bettina-hutschek.com