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Corpus Adflictum

3 Nov

The last couple of months have been a nice drive towards the solo exhibition of the much talented artist Aaron Bezzina. It has been an honour to be involved into this process. Challenge and being challenged led to an amazing result for all involved. It has also be a joy to do this curatorship with Stefan. We are still a strong team ;-).  More to come …

But enough about that. Let’s focus on the ‘now’ . This exhibition is for sure a must see, and it is not just because I say it ;-). The title Corpus Adflictum refers to the fact that humans quite often self-inflict oneselves to conform with society. It also refers to what drives humans to do that/or not in a playful way.

Thank you to Gudrun Rombaut to brainstorm with us about the title and to make sure we had the correct text on Aaron Bezzina’s gravestone for the 1st of November.

Here is the text that we wrote for the exhibition:

CORPUS ADFLICTUM

CORPUS [Latin, noun, body, matter, substance, corps, flesh, physique, form] ADFLICTUM [Latin, adjective, afflict, crush, damage, ruin]

Machines and mechanical objects play an important role in Aaron Bezzina’s oeuvre. If something like machine art exists then this exhibition is most certainly an example of strangeness (and familiarity), distance (and proximity) and rejection (and love or intimacy)[1]

Bezzina uses the imaginary in a very down-to-earth way. He uses simple interfaces that are recognizable and that can boost ones ego. His work refers to the language of machines, rather than being machines. It refers to the 19th century aesthetics of industrial apparatuses and focuses on their mechanics in a playful and intriguing way.

Whereas his larger scale work keeps the roughness and rawness of the materials used, his small objects are polished and finalized in great detail. They become precious objects. Objects of desire. Objects one wants to touch, to own and to understand how they work even if it comes with a challenge.

This solo show immerges the visitor into an act of voluntary harm and bodily sacrifice. In today’s society it seems to be socially acceptable to display and advertise the perfect body and its modifications at the cost of self-affliction. We have become responsible for the design of our own body [2]. One can say that the body has become plastic, a lifestyle accessory, a thing to be sculpted, shaped and ‘stylized’[3]. Adding something to the body or transforming is part of the action guided by the self.

Thus the body becomes an object, an apparatus, a machine and the movement of the body becomes a mechanical motion. The action taken is an instinctive one. It is something one wants and feels the need to do. The action is totally driven by the desire to control oneself even if it contains a risk. It would be a risk that one is willing to take.

It is that desire that interests Bezzina. He questions through is work what drives people’s desire. He wonders what people would do if there were no rules and regulations. Would they go for the action or not. This exhibition offers the choice to engage with the apparatuses or not. It is at your own risk and/or pleasure to involve yourself with the mental picture of the machine.

[1] Broeckmann, A (2016) Machine Art in the Twentieth Century, The MIT Press, p.30

[2] Giddens, A. (1991) Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age, Stanford University Press, p.102.

[3] Hancock et al (2000) The body, culture and society: An Introduction, Open University Press, p. 8.

 

The show is on at Valletta Contemporary till the 4th of December. For those who are in the neigbourhood go and see it! All credits are to Aaron. He did a great job 😉

So glad to see this …

28 Apr

Screenshot 2019-04-28 at 09.21.13In 2017 I had the pleasure to work with the great team of the Erasmus Hogeschool (EhB)  – Department of Design and Technology  – in Brussels on a new curriculum called Digital Design & Development. Design Thinking is at its core. The course trains young people to become critical digital experience designers and is completely based on project-based learning, combining play, creativity, technology, human-centred design, societal challenges and art.  It is so nice to see now that this is actually happening and that the gender balance is getting in the right direction, because technology is not just a male thing 😉

This was 3 years of meeting point strand coordination at Valletta 2018 for me …

1 Jan

Instead of New Years resolutions, I like to look back a little as it inspires me to look forward. 3 years Meeting Point Strand (2016 – 2018) coordination at Valletta 2018 came to an end. It has been an intense, but rich experience.

November 2015 it was, when the question popped up to see what could be the programme of Valletta 2018‘s Meeting Point Strand, and to write a proposal. As the title hints it had to be a meeting place, a crossroad;  in short a strand that connected the dots between projects, disciplines, backgrounds and genres.

Some elements where already there, such as the collaboration with Roberto Cimetta Fund on a Mobility Grant to facilitate mobility within the Mediterranean region, or the joint programme with Fondazijoni Kreattività for the artist residencies in Gozo. The rest of the strand was still very open.

So what to take into account when curating the strand?  Important it seemed, was not just to connect the dots, but also to find sustainable ground for the programmes that would find their place within the strand. So instead of going for one-off project common interests between partners and disciplines were explored.

And thus liveability, sustainability, connectivity, common space, co-creation and interaction became natural keywords within the strand. It all gradually came along and fell into place. Although the outcomes where very divers, I felt there was a lot of commonality between all the projects that were part of my job as a strand coordinator.

All had a connection with community, co-creation and collaboration. Bridges where made – and some sustainable –  between education, design, science, health, urban development and the different art genres.

3 years,  8 residency programmes, 4 inservice trainings on creativity for teachers, 3 urban labs, 3 international workshops, 2 masterclasses, 50 incoming residencies, 3 outgoing residencies and a the monitoring of a mobility grant later I look back at it with gratefulness.

It were 3 exciting years with a lot of emotions, inspiring collaborations, encounters for life and never-to-forget experiences.

Take for instance all the memories that will stay linked with the artist residency in Gozo .  So many different project, so many different outcomes, so many connections with locals of all backgrounds and ages. Bringing in the selection criteria on working/connecting with the community and the local cultural scene has worked well. It was hard to choose between the many strong proposals we received. In total 27 projects took place and 38 artist from 14 different countries stayed in Gharb between the second half of 2016 and 2018. What we hoped for, also happened. Some of the residency projects became part of the Spazju Kreattiv or Valletta 2018 programme, thus with some of the artists we had a longer journey then just the weeks at the residence, but with most of the artists there is still a very good connection. The latter showed when we were setting up the exhibition ‘Not Just the City‘. The exhibition looks back at 3 years of collaboration and introduces the future, as Spazju Kreattiv is continuing with a residency programme on both Malta and Gozo. It was a pleasure to work with Justin and all of the Spazju Kreattiv team, as well as the wonderful regional coordinator for Gozo, Victoria. 

Or the AiR programme we were able to set up for almost 3 years at the Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre, bringing art, health and wellbeing together in its own way. Art as a translator of emotions and as comforter along the cancer treatment journey. Pamela Baldacchino, through the Deep Shelter Project developed a strong and divers artist in residence programme including sensory workshops, an international residency, creation of on-site artworks with artists, managing the numerous donations, refurbishing the multi-fate and the interviewing room, organising concerts, readings, … It also resulted in a lot of interesting research, ready to be disclosed. I hope Pam will be able to continue with all this for a long time ;-).

Art and Science where bridged through a one year collaboration with the newly opened Science centre Esplora, including an international residency for 2 months, a masterclass and an inset for teachers all related one way or another to storytelling. The international residency concluded in an educational animation on indigenous plants (plantarium) and was a close collaboration between the artist and the educational team of the centre … that not just used their scientific, but also their musical skills.

But the strand did not just consist of  residencies. It included also workshops, trainings, meet and greets and inset sessions for teachers.  From year one, my colleague of the education strand, Angele and I started with a series of workshops for teachers introducing the use of art and creativity in the classroom as part of the inservice programme of the Ministry. The first one used ‘comics’ and took place at the residency in Gozo, the second one focused on creativity as such and the third one used games. For the latter we were lucky to be able to work together with ILearn at the Ministry of Education.

A special one in the series of international workshops was Design4DCity’.  The idea to work on interdisciplinary workshops and labs based on co-creation and urban design emerged from discussions with Caldon, the project manager of the Valletta Design Cluster. Since Valletta and in fact the whole of Malta is changing fast challenges on liveability and wellbeing appear. We wanted to support this discussion in an interactive and co-creative way, involving the residents on urban development on new, common space.

kafel-z-wro-do-valletty-97250The first workshop took place in Valletta and was the start of a collaboration for the next 2 international workshops with 72Hrs Urban Action. The workshops and labs that took place in the next two years left the city, and explored areas at Birżebbuġa and Siġġiewi. Collaborations with other partners international such as AiRWro for an international residency/exchange, and local show that there is fertile ground for co-creation and co-reflection with residents to define public spaces. We noticed that these 3 years developed some fertile ground to continue the dialogue and the interaction. Design4Dcity is now part of the Valletta Design Cluster, the work has just begun 😉 I’m curious to see how it will develop further…

Last but not least the strand was among others also able to support a residency at Zfin Malta,  Fragmenta Malta and Rima, as well as the masterclasses within the Monteverdi project, a long-term training programme for young Maltese singers.

In sum I could conclude by saying that this could only work thanks to collaborations and connections. To me it was a wonderful experience. It also showed that curation works best when one works together and when one trusts each other. Therefore I thank Valletta 2018 Foundation for trusting me with this, and all artists, colleagues and partners involved, it was a wonderful ride.

Im planning to write an impact paper on this …

Not Just the City – Documenting the Gozo Residencies 2016-2018

16 Dec

The exhibition that is currently on at Spazju Kreattiv gives a fine selection of what has happened at the residency in Gozo over the past 3 years. It was difficult to choose between the 27 projects that happened there, but I think Justin Galea and I managed to give a good idea of the excitement and the vibes that all these different artist brought to the Maltese Island.

I’m grateful for this beautiful experience. It was great collaborating with all members of the Spazju Kreattiv team and with my partner in crime for Gozo, Regional Coordinator Victoria Martha Pace. Thank you also Valletta 2018 for entrusting me with this … and of course all artists ;-).

The exhibition is still on till the beginning of February. There will be three activities around the exhibition in January and February. More info on the website of Spazju Kreattiv.

 

Reflections on being a higher arts education educator today

17 Nov

51lqjn0vjVL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This week the book The Leader Reader – Narratives of Experience arrived in Malta. It brings together more then 100 essays/reflections of educators around the world. What reads through all narratives if each writer’s passion for teaching. We were asked for a very personal view on our Leadership moment in lecturing/teaching … From that came my reflection on my experience as a lecturer in arts education. The challenges, but also the strengths the arts have in relation to other disciplines in education and in society.

You can find my essay here.

Curious to read other experiences? You can order the book here.

 

Thank you John for introducing me to the editors.

 

Exchange in Time and The Island Indoors on Kultura News

5 Sep

Kultura News made a short item on last weeks exchange in Valletta and in introduction to the exhibition that will take place in Ekeren in November.

If you are around, come and join us. The exhibition opens 9 November and runs till 30 November. We have a discussion and meet & greet planned on the 10th. So plenty of time to meet the artists then.

Exchange in Time as part The Island Indoors – notes and outcomes

2 Sep

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A 2-day intensive discussion on art and art education on 27-28 August 2018, hosted by the School of Art in Valletta. Exchange between Flanders and Malta as part of the exhibition project ‘The Island Indoors” (supported by Arts Council Malta through the Cultural Export Fund and 252cc, and endorsed by Valletta 2018). Bringing together 2 art teachers and their (ex)-students.

The notes and outcomes can be found here. Some of the topics will be further developed at the Meet and Greet session on the 10th of November in Ekeren … and hopefully also later on in Malta 😉