Following an international call for the engagement of a curatorial team to curate the Malta Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale 2022, a team of artists, curators and project managers from the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Malta have won the Malta Pavilion Award for their curatorial project, Diplomazija Astuta (Astute Diplomacy).
The team will thus be proudly representing Malta at the next International Art Exhibition at the Biennale di Venezia in 2022, scheduled to take place from 23 April until 27 November 2022.
The team, consisting of Prof. Keith Sciberras and Jeffrey Uslip through the creative collaboration of Prof. Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci, Archangelo Sassolino, and the composition of renowned Maltese conductor Brian Schembri, will be re-articulating Caravaggio’s ‘The Beheading of St John the Baptist' of 1608. Together with the help of Dr Nikki Petroni and Esther Flurry, who are engaged as project managers, they will be creating a conceptual, immersive and site-specific installation bridging biblical narratives with contemporary culture.
The work will celebrate Malta’s centuries-long art historical exchange with Italy, while addressing contemporary challenges of inequality, justice and peace. It will also prompt viewers to experience the brutality of St John’s execution in the present day, in real time and space.
Sassolino’s artwork will be accompanied by a musical composition by Schembri that will respect the exhibition’s spiritual silence, then build to a cinematic crescendo, finally culminating in a cathartic climax.
Steel, a material intrinsic to 20th century modernity, is melted to allegorically usher in 21st century progress and a sense of healing.
Prof. Schembri Bonaci’s artwork, Metall u Skiet will also be part of the installation, with excerpts from Psalm 139 to be engraved in a number of languages, visually folding into eachother.
“Diplomazija Astuta will give our Fine Arts and Art History students the opportunity to anchor themselves directly in the curatorial and artistic processes involved in the realisation of the project. We would like to thank Prof. Dominic Fenech for supporting our practice as research work and for being immersed in our Biennale Pavilion Project”, said Prof. Keith Sciberras.
The Biennale will be titled ‘The Milk of Dreams’, a name borrowed from a book by Leonora Carrington. Curator Cecilia Alemani curated the Italian Pavilion at the 2017 Art Biennale, which Malta returned to after a 17-year absence.
More information about Diplomazija Astuta can be found on the Arts Council website.