The Malta Independent 25 May 2024, Saturday
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Malta Pavilion at the 2024 Venice Art Biennale

Owen Bonnici Friday, 19 April 2024, 08:16 Last update: about 2 months ago

It was my privilege to inaugurate the Malta Pavilion at the esteemed Venice Art Biennale in Italy. This pavilion, commissioned by Arts Council Malta, showcases the innovative project "I Will Follow the Ship" by solo artist Matthew Attard.

Attard's exhibition seamlessly merges historical ship graffiti from Malta's islands with digital technology, resulting in a contemporary drawing practice. Co-curated by Elyse Tonna and Sara Dolfi Agostini, the project's management is overseen by Maria Galea and Galleria Michela Rizzo, with Vincenzo Casali serving as consulting architect and Joey Borg handling programming and software development.


I underscored the significance of La Biennale di Venezia as one of the foremost international institutions for contemporary art presentation and promotion. Malta's return to the Biennale in 2017 after a 17-year hiatus, followed by participations in 2019 and 2022, highlights our nation's commitment to global cultural dialogue.

As a Government we had made considerable strides in bolstering the arts and culture sectors through substantial investment, resulting in a remarkable surge in growth, particularly evident in creative careers. Over the past decade, there has been an exponential increase in the number of individuals engaging in various artistic pursuits, a trend that has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, between 2022 and 2023 alone, there was a notable 13% uptick in participation, highlighting the tangible impact of our sustained efforts in nurturing and promoting artistic talent within the community.

This positive trajectory speaks volumes about our unwavering dedication to fostering a vibrant cultural landscape that not only enriches the lives of our citizens but also contributes significantly to our national identity and global standing. The burgeoning success of initiatives like the inauguration of MUŻA in 2018, which has served as a beacon for artistic expression and appreciation, stands as a testament to our commitment to providing world-class infrastructure and platforms for artists to thrive.

Furthermore, the recent debut of in 2024 has garnered widespread acclaim, further solidifying Malta's position as a hub for artistic innovation and creativity on the international stage. As we eagerly anticipate the imminent launch of MICAS this autumn, our resolve to champion the arts and support emerging talents remains steadfast.

Through strategic partnerships, innovative programs, and targeted investments, we continue to lay the groundwork for a vibrant and sustainable creative ecosystem that empowers artists to push boundaries, challenge conventions, and ultimately shape the cultural landscape of tomorrow. As we forge ahead, we remain steadfast in our belief that investing in the arts is not just an economic imperative but a fundamental expression of our values and aspirations as a nation committed to fostering creativity, diversity, and inclusivity.

I extend my gratitude to Arts Council Malta, led by Executive Chair Albert Marshall, for their pivotal role in promoting local artists both at home and abroad. Matthew Attard epitomizes the spirit of resilience and determination inherent in our artists. His journey from a small country to Venice exemplifies the transformative power of artistic passion and talent.

The theme of this year's Biennale, "Foreigners Everywhere," resonates deeply with Malta's Pavilion. Our exhibit, rooted in humble and anonymous ship graffiti scattered across Malta, represents a shared cultural heritage found throughout the Mediterranean Basin and beyond.

Established in 1895, La Biennale di Venezia stands as a premier platform for international artists, dedicated to preserving and promoting contemporary art on a global scale.

The 2024 Venice Art Biennale will run from April 20th to November 24th. The preview of the Malta Pavilion took place on April 17th, 18th, and 19th, offering a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Maltese artistic expression.

Open days – Inwettqu flimkien

Free Admission and Exciting Activities at Għar Dalam, Borġ in-Nadur and the National Archives

Heritage Malta is extending an invitation for tomorrow, Saturday 20th April for the public to delve into the deep prehistoric heritage of the Maltese Islands at Għar Dalam and the Borġ in-Nadur Prehistoric Complex. Situated in Birżebbuġa, both sites will open their doors to the public free of charge.

Għar Dalam stands as Malta's oldest prehistoric site, bearing witness to the earliest human presence on the island approximately 7,400 years ago. Rows of ancient animal bones, unearthed from the cave and displayed within one of Europe's last remaining Victorian-style exhibits, offer insights into this ancient epoch.

Inside the Għar Dalam cave, adorned with captivating stalactites, stalagmites, and various rock formations, visitors are transported back in time, enveloped in awe at the mysteries of our distant past. Moreover, this site boasts a diverse array of indigenous flora and forms an integral part of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.

During Saturday's open day, attendees will also have the opportunity to explore the adjacent Borġ in-Nadur site. Situated atop elevated terrain between two valleys – Wied Żembaq and Wied Dalam – this Neolithic site, excavated in the 1920s by renowned archaeologist Margaret Murray, has been instrumental in elucidating aspects of Maltese prehistory.

The day promises to be filled with engaging activities suitable for the whole family, thanks to collaborative efforts with other organizations. These activities include interactive experiences for children, informative stands detailing Heritage Malta's passport and membership schemes, and the availability of Heritage Malta publications for purchase. Additionally, children will receive a small token of appreciation 

Both Għar Dalam and Borġ in-Nadur will welcome visitors from 09:00 to 17:00, with the last admission permitted at 16:30.

Similarly, the National Archives are inviting the public for an Open Day on Sunday 21st April where the visitors will have the opportunity to embark on a fascinating journey through Malta's rich historical tapestry. The event promises a diverse array of engaging sessions, each offering unique insights into different facets of Maltese heritage.

"The People's Voice" exhibition at the National Archives will shed light on the voices of the past, allowing visitors to explore the diverse narratives preserved within its walls.  People can delve into the intriguing history of Malta's Railway system and uncover the stories behind a portrait that has remained hidden from public view until now, offering a glimpse. One can explore documents at the National Archives, offering a glimpse into the ancestral roots of the Maltese family tree and discover the wealth of historical records that illuminate Malta's rich cultural heritage.

One can also visit the Gozo Archive section, celebrating 35 years of dedicated service in preserving the island's unique history and traditions.

As the afternoon progresses, one can immerse himself or herself in the audiovisual material housed at the National Archives, offering a dynamic and multi-sensory experience of Malta's past.

People can learn about the meticulous preservation techniques employed to safeguard these invaluable documents, gaining insight into the delicate art of archival conservation and step into the trenches of the last war through the lens of historical documents, while experiencing first-hand accounts of life during wartime.   These keep providing a poignant reminder of Malta's resilience in the face of adversity.

These captivating sessions are just a glimpse of what awaits visitors at the National Archives Open Day. Join us for a day of discovery, reflection, and celebration of Malta's rich cultural heritage. All this while you can listen to local artists perform!  All for free!

Indeed this will be another weekend full of culture!



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