Malta as a land of sea at BOZAR centre of fine arts in Brussels

Malta is Mediterranean territory of land and sea. Its history is inspired by the ways and means how the two connect and merge, overlap and retreat. This almost mythical sea flows between islands and peninsulas, connects three continents and is the birthplace of empires and civilizations. Dominant civilisations have engaged with Malta’s unique cultural landscape over time, for reasons of war or trade. All have contributed threads to its cultural weave; many lost, some forgotten and others highlighted as founding elements of the Maltese nation-state.

The exhibition, purposely produced for BOZAR Centre of Fine Arts presents Malta as territory of land and sea. The exhibition story is told in ten sections featuring over sixty works of art and heritage objects ranging from Prehistory to the contemporary. Exhibits can be seen both in isolation and interlated to other works on display thus presenting a dynamic, unique and varied understanding of the history and soul of an island rooted in cultural hybridization. Select works by Maltese contemporary artists Austin Camilleri and Pierre Portelli engage with the historic objects on display. Camilleri’s works present the Maltese language. Portelli’s works include interactive sound installations which visitors can engage with during their visit.

The exhibition features loans from over twenty museums, cultural heritage institutions and non-governmental organisations in Malta and abroad. Works on display include maps, archaeological artefacts, paintings, maps, historic arms and weapons, geological finds, models and contemporary art. One of the star items on display, purposely loaned by the Pitti in Florence is Caravaggio’s Knight of Malta painted during the artist’s brief stay on the island between 1607 and 1608 and recently also restored. An unusual display, perfectly integrated within the exhibition display is a refugee compass recently used in one of the dangerous Mediterranean crossings.

Other local institutions participating in this exhibition include the Mdina Cathedral Museum, The Victor Pasmore Foundation and Art Gallery, The Notarial Archives, Palazzo Falson Historic House Museum, the National Library, Casa Rocca Piccola and the non-governmental organisation MOAS. Two Maltese parish churches, Gudja Parish Church and St Paul’s Collegiate Parish Church (Rabat) have also lent works. International lenders include the LouvreThe Malta Study Centre, Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, Minnesota, U.S.A. and Fondazione Renzo Piano (Genoa) besides Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy.

The exhibition shall be complemented by a purposely produced catalogue featuring contributions on Malta as territory of land and sea. The exhibition guidebook, that will be distributed free of charge from the exhibition venue includes short commentaries about select works written by Maltese authors and writers in Malta, Brussels and Luxembourg.       

‘Malta land of sea’ is a BOZAR Centre of Fine Arts project in collaboration with Heritage Malta and Arts Council Malta. It also commemorates the 50th anniversary of Malta’s original proposal for the United Nation’s Convention of the Law of the Sea, will be open between 17th February and 28th May of 2017.

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