A prelude to maltabiennale.art’s themes through engaging workshops

Series of workshops kicks off the first edition.
The Valletta skyline is being threatened by possible developments. Photo: Shutterstock.

The Malta Biennale, set for a grand unveiling on March 12, has already commenced its cultural odyssey across the Maltese Islands, captivating audiences with a series of enriching workshops and seminars. These immersive activities serve as an introduction to the main event, fostering dialogue around contemporary art and its capacity to reflect and challenge Mediterranean histories and perspectives.

Among these preparatory events, the workshop Colour Adventures: Tent and Patterns at Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra Archaeological Park stood out. Guided by renowned Polish artist Wioletta Kulewska Akyel, participants engaged with themes of art and heritage through interactive sessions, crafting their own masterpieces inspired by Akyel’s work, which will be featured in the main pavilion of maltabiennale.art.

Akyel’s artwork delves into one of the four main themes of maltabiennale.art: The Matri-archive of the Mediterranean. Hosted at the Grand Master’s Palace and National Library in Valletta, this theme challenges patriarchal archiving norms by celebrating the creative contributions of Mediterranean women and providing a vital reinterpretation of historical narratives for generations to come.

The biennale’s three other main themes include Can You Sea?: The Mediterranean as a political body. Held at the Armoury in Birgu, Dock-1 in Cospicua, and Underground Valletta, this theme highlights the sea’s pivotal role in shaping Malta’s identity and invites artists to explore the sea as a space that connects diverse realities across territorial constraints and continents.

The Counterpower of Piracy unfolds at St Elmo in Valletta, the Cittadella, Gozo Cultural Centre, and the Grain Silos in Gozo. This theme delves into Malta’s historical ties with piracy, drawing parallels to contemporary movements to portray piracy as a symbol of counterpower that inspires modern activists, hackers, and grassroots organisations.

The final theme, Decolonising Malta: Polyphony Is Us, explores Malta’s history of colonisation. Artworks showcased at the Main Guard, Tal-Pilar Church and Auberge d’Aragon in Valletta together with Dock No.1 in Cottonera and Ġgantija Archaeological Park in Gozo aim to highlight the ongoing process of decolonisation by positioning Malta as a unique case that offers a vital perspective for the broader decolonial discourse.

Seventy local and international artists, including many of global renown, are currently putting the final touches on their installations for exhibition across 20 heritage sites in Malta and Gozo. In celebration of their remarkable talent, artistry, and vision, all artists are welcomed to the grand opening, which will be inaugurated by His Excellency the President of Malta, Dr. George Vella, in the Throne Room of the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta on March 12.

maltabiennale.art is a Heritage Malta initiative through MUŻA, the Malta National Community Art Museum, in partnership with Arts Council Malta. For more information visit: www.maltabiennale.art

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