Liquid Key: channelling the ‘third mind’

A collaborative project between artists John Paul Azzopardi and Adrian Camilleri.
Occult Blood Scan A, by John Paul Azzopardi.

Artists John Paul Azzopardi and Adrian Camilleri are collaborating on an event titled Liquid Key at The Splendid, in Valletta. The event is part of a wider project and will showcase a number of sculptures and mixed media works by Azzopardi, alongside two short films by Camilleri.

The collaborative undertaking has been underway since 2021, with the upcoming exhibition serving as an introduction to this project, where the audience can experience the convergence of various artistic mediums and materials presenting exploring themes related to the essence of human experience, life, death and resurrection.

Camilleri and Azzopardi met several years ago during one of the gigs that Camilleri was playing at the time. 

“I think JP is a musician at heart, and I find his bone sculptures very symphonic. We are both constantly creating stuff and exploring very similar themes in our work.  JP proposed the idea of creating a platform to showcase our work, coining it Liquid Key,” Camilleri explains. 

He describes the term ‘liquid key’ as a kind of “third mind”, in a reference to the William S Burroughs and Brion Gysin classic publication.

“When you put two minds together, the result is always an autonomous third mind,” he says.

The origins of the current exhibition came about when, in 2022, Azzopardi showed Camilleri one of his previously unseen sculptures. Finding the work to have a potent effect on him, Camilleri started working on a short film, interacting with the sculpture through video and sound. Eventually, he proposed to JP the idea of hosting an event that would feature a screening of the film and showcase the sculpture to the publicly for the first time.

A still from the film Cosmic Split, by Adrian Camilleri.

The exhibit will actually showcase two short films on loop – You got to burn to shine, and Cosmic split, both posing as an existential drama and meditation. Besides the sculpture, there will also be some other mixed media works by Azzopardi on view, with the artist performing live at the venue as Accla on January 12. The artist’s works are mainly from his Saṃskāra cycle and Occult Blood series. The Saṃskāra series deals with the impressions that shape our characteristic traits; that possesses our being, moulding our thinking patterns, behaviour and responses, and how neurosis finds its place within the realm of Saṃskāra. 

“(Negative) experiences produce seeds akin to a parasitical quality that develops, capturing our being, even paralysing our basic experience and activity. When we allow these seeds to develop and stabilise, our actions tend to burn more energy,” Azzopardi says of the series.

Occult Blood,  on the other hand, is a series of works generated from medical visualisation software. The images are a result of experimenting with virtual endoscopy and other digital platforms, exploring the internal subtle forms of mental poison, depression, and illness that cannot be seen by the naked eye.

 “I am all about the work being experienced there and then, rather than reading about it or seeing images on Instagram. That’s the purpose of the event, the experience and contemplation of the work being exhibited.” 

The artists chose The Splendid for its neutral identity as a venue that doesn’t have all the politics a regular gallery would carry, while also being attracted to the beauty of “the architecture and its state of dereliction”. Moreover, it steers away from the “white-washed” sterility that some other galleries carry.

Liquid Key runs on January 12 between 6.30pm and midnight, with a live sonic performance at 9pm. On January 13 the exhibition is open between 2.30pm and 10.30 pm. This event is sponsored by Arts Council Malta.

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