Arts Council Malta, within the Ministry for National Heritage, the Arts, and Local Government has announced that Maltese artistMatthew Attard shall be representing Malta at the prestigious 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.
Speaking at the launch, Minister for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government, Owen Bonnici stated that established in 1895, La Biennale di Venezia is a platform for the exhibition of the works of international artists and is recognized as one of the most prestigious international cultural institutions for the presentation and promotion of contemporary art.
Minister Bonnici said that this will be the first time that the national pavilion will be entrusted to a solo Maltese artist. He explained that Matthew Attard’s project for the Malta Pavilion, ‘I will follow the ship‘, explores ideas of human existence and survival at the point of convergence between history and the future, the physical experience and the digital input.
The solo show, entitled I will follow the ship and consisting of a new art commission weaving together cultural heritage and cutting-edge AI-driven technology, will be co-curated by Italian American curator Sara Dolfi Agostini and Maltese curator Elyse Tonna, both active in the Maltese art scene through several institutional collaborations.
Mary Ann Cauchi, Director Funding and Strategy stated that through Malta’s participation at the Biennale, Arts Council Malta shall strengthen Maltese arts and culture internationally while actively promoting the creative and cultural sector. Matthew Attard’s exhibition, brings Maltese cultural heritage together with the technology of artificial intelligence. She said that it’s an honor for Arts Council Malta to be the commissioner, and give its full support to such an important event in the world of arts and culture, and the Council shall strive to continue to put Malta, and its artists, on the international map.
Artist Matthew Attard said that the project for the Malta Pavilion, I will follow the ship, explores ideas of human existence and survival at the point of convergence between history and future, physical experience, and digital input. It originates from his latest explorations into AI and drawing technology, fused with his interest for historical images of ex-voto ship graffiti, vernacular iconographies which speak of ancient local tales of faith and salvation across the Mediterranean. Located on the facades of several wayside chapels on the islands, these ephemeral etchings in stone were possibly crafted by seafarers because of the religious significance and political immunity these buildings offered.
The meanings and values of these anonymous ship drawings reverberate in our present times, where computer technology and the internet have propelled mass artistic emancipation and overturned traditional local centers of power.
This is the point of departure of Attard’s project for the Malta Pavilion, conceived to catalyze the attention of the spectator via technological devices which allow for digital interaction and collective speculative thinking about the future. In fact, the ship graffiti are unique to Malta, yet resonate with many cultures whose relationship with the sea has been – and still is – crucial, as evidenced by Venice’s own such inscriptions. At a time of climate change, rising sea levels, and questions of people’s place in a hyper technological world, these humble marks of hope, root metaphors deeply embedded in human consciousness, drift in the middle of the Pavilion to reveal what hides behind screens and beliefs.
The Co-Curators of I Will Follow the Ship are Sara Dolfi Agostini and Elyse Tonna. Maria Galea and Galleria Michela Rizzo shall oversee the Project Management.
The Evaluation Board members were Perit Adrian Mamo, Artistic Director at the Manoel Theatre; Valletta; Dr Katya Micallef, Curator at MUZA- the Malta Community Art Museum, Valletta and Daniel Azzopardi, Artistic Director at Spazju Kreattiv. The evaluation was chaired by Mary Ann Cauchi, Director Funding & Strategy, Arts Council Malta.