Confrontation caricaturised

Duality, confrontation and caricaturisation are key influences in the work of Maltese artist Prof. Vince Briffa. Noting how people tend to look at each end of a spectrum: ‘us and them’, ‘good and bad’, ‘love and hate’, Briffa’s work dives into the space in between.
Briffa breaks free of these constraints and questions dogmatic extremities. His most recent work, collectively known as the caricaturisation of confrontation, reflects upon, and deconstructs this internal space.

The first piece in the series, Nar-Nir (for AB), is a reflection upon Malta’s strong political divide, and our tendency towards extremes. Switching from colour to greyscale, the work becomes a metaphor for how both extremes are indistinguishable when reduced to their fundamental monotone. Nar and Nir are drowned in voiceless obscurity by divesting them of their dominant characteristic - the vibrancy of their hue. It is also a comment on Maltese language, representing its unwary impoverishment.

The interactive sound sculpture Paned Window (Min hu barra, barra u min hu ġewwa, ġewwa) is fueled by constant monitoring of the vibrations of the gallery walls, and their external source. Translated to sound, viewers walk within the space and not only experience the space’s reaction to their presence, they contribute to the everchanging soundscape.

A work in progress, Fomm ir-Riħ, separates the two main components of the spoken word. Sound and the wind confronts visitors, revisiting the divine notion of the word as the breath of life.The work also challenges the power of the word and plays on the way we conceive confrontation. It also questions the ultimate destination of language, symbolised by our own speech. Playing with the science behind this issue, it questions: ‘if our spoken word, as sound waves, are reflected, refracted and ultimately decay, having their energy dissipated as heat, what happens to this heat when they are met with a cooling fan that is activated every time a word or phrase is uttered?’

Briffa makes us confront our own extremities, and question the logic and reason behind them.

Note: Fomm ir-Riħ will be shown at an exhibition entitled Metafourisms, at Spazju Kreattiv in Valletta in May 2018.

Read all about this on THINK — UM's Research magazine.