culture / Malte
The Malta Arts Festival
Gilbert Calleja - 18/10/2010
“When we started the Festival (Davinia Galea and myself) 5 years ago we had one clear aim: to establish a platform of quality where artists, Maltese and foreign, can present their work within a professional context which caters for their artistic needs and which in the process would establish higher levels in terms of the infrastructure that is needed to support quality,” festival artistic director Mario Frendo said, “After 5 years I can say that this vision has given fruit.
Toni Attard and Louiselle Vassallo in OSPIZIO/ © G. Calleja
The line-up of performances and events in this year’s festival echoed perfectly the spirit of these words. Though the festival's focus are the performing arts in open spaces (to make the most of the Summer weather) this year we have had activities like the ‘OSPIZIO’ and ‘SPACES’ where the directors/curators re-visited old buildings and brought them back to life.
Louiselle Vassallo in OSPIZIO/ photo: © G.Calleja
Veteran actor Narcy Calamatta in the role of disgraced inquisitor Paolo Passioné in OSPIZIO/ © G. Calleja
‘OSPIZIO’ director (and veteran actor) Paul Portelli said that when Anon were approached they immediately agreed that it had to be a site-specific performance involving “a real collaboration across disciplines”. The project involved a cast of over 80 different participants including actors, a choir, a band and a group of young artists who together appropriated the place’s history, sad as it may be, and wove a solid performance where boundaries between dream (or shall I say nightmares) and reality dissolve. Using elements of the grotesque, the local carnival floats, the religious, humour and a great deal of visual inventiveness Theatre Anon took audiences back to ‘this field of forgotten souls’ and played with their emotions in this highly acclaimed tableau vivant.
‘SPACES’ curator Lisa Gwen Baldacchino reiterated this working philosophy and describes the event as an “experiment aimed at creating a working/exhibition space for artists in the capital city; precisely along Strait Street. Artists are finding it increasingly hard to secure a venue for a show, and the few ('proper') spaces available are usually booked months, if not years in advance … So I, together with the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts thought of finding and rehabilitating a disused space for this year's Malta Arts Festival visual arts project, which saw the participation of 5 artists … Sean Gabriel Ellul, Fabrizio Ellul, Ruth Bianco, Anton Grech and James Micallef Grimaud each had their own space in which to work and show their 'wares'… contemporary Maltese art has no ‘house’, although it is well deserving of one, and in its absence I feel an obligation/duty to find ways and means of promoting what is happening in Maltese art scene now. It is not only the past which sets a context for the future but it is a combination of the past and the present. Contemporary culture needs to be promoted and safeguarded in the same manner deserving of cultural heritage.”
Entrance to ‘SPACES’ exhibition