Maltese artist Matthew Attard shall be representing Malta at the Biennale di Venezia International Art Exhibition in 2024. Established in 1895, La Biennale di Venezia, a platform for the exhibition of works by international artists, is today acknowledged as one of the most prestigious cultural institutions. The 60th edition of the Art Biennale will open on April 20 and run until November 24.
Matthew’s art installation, I Will Follow The Ship, is unique to Malta yet it resonates with many cultures that have a special bond with the sea that surrounds them. Matthew’s work originates from popular historical images of ex-voto ship graffiti (particularly those located within the historical site of San Pawl Milqi, which speak of ancient local tales of survival, faith, and salvation).
These historical and vernacularly drawn graffiti are located on the facades of several wayside chapels on the island. They are ephemeral etchings in stone potentially crafted by seafarers, and their location on places of worship “meant to show gratitude to a Christian deity for being saved from ill fate” (The Malta Ship Graffiti Project, University of Malta/Heritage Malta).
After a 17-year absence, Malta returned to the Biennale di Venezia in 2017 and again in 2019 and in 2022. Prior to that, it had participated with a special exhibition of Maltese Artists in 1958 and a National Pavilion in 1999.
Both the 2017 Malta Pavilion (Homo Melitensis: An Incomplete Inventory in 19 Chapters), the 2019 Malta Pavilion (Maleth / Haven /Port – Heterotopias of Evocation) and the 2022 Malta Pavilion (Diplomazija Astuta) received international press acclaim, garnering a host of high-profile media accolades and acknowledgements.
Arts Council Malta, under the auspices of the Ministry for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, is the commissioner of the Malta Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia.