Published on Thursday 2 April 2020

May You Live In Interesting Times. The title of the 58th Venice Art Biennale (which took place just last year), keeps reverberating in my mind, somewhat hauntingly.

The word “interesting” is obviously a misnomer; the whole phrase sounds like a blessing, yet was intended as a “fake curse” of sorts, almost reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s much-abused quote: “curiouser and curiouser”, which Alice uttered in reaction to her deep consternation towards the radical changes in her physiognomy following the ingestion of labelled foods and liquids. 

As I sit in bed, cats curled around my feet, writing and researching, I can’t help but think of all those who have found themselves, or rather, been thrown into this situation. The forced isolation, or the hermitude as I’ve coined it, is not something any of us ever imagined. A chosen solitary life, is incompatible and incomparable to loneliness. This is perhaps why my thoughts always veer to the artists and creatives, who are still stereotypically pictured as individuals fervently and prolifically working in silo in bouts and spurts of mused expression.

Somehow Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s titles – 100 Years of Solitude, and Love in the Time of Cholera – have both been cited time and again over the past weeks, somewhat fortuitously. In fact, the title of this piece is a direct reference to Marquez and to a social media page which was created mere days after the first case in Malta made headlines.

The page was meant to “serve as a platform for streaming performances, stay-at-home sessions, showcasing exhibitions, pre-recordings and anything of an artistic nature. (source: LovinMalta). Strangely, that page has disappeared, yet since that initial incentive, countless initiatives have sprung across social media platforms. The Art in the Time of Corona page, seems to have been replaced by another, perhaps more pertinent, and practical platform, which can be found on Facebook, by the title: Creative and Cultural Community (Malta), linked here: This group is especially useful to keep up to date with developments and opportunities relating to the sector and consequences of COVID-19, including any financial assistance or supplements. Pertinent events are also shared on the platform, such as webinars and online conferences.

Other initiatives include Teatru Malta’s TeatreDEPOZIT, which invites artists to propose projects for which they can get paid now (50% deposit), in order to work later. Link available here: Arts Council Malta is also in the process of designing and churning out a series of online ACMlab sessions targeting the sector, and the ways and means of turning these trying times, into opportunities and creative, albeit mostly virtual means of engagement. ARC Research and Consultancy as well as Culture Venture, have separately conducted surveys and studies on the impact of COVID-19 on the artistic community, results of which are meant to shed light on the plights of the community as well as possibly pave the pave for new future measures. In addition, ACM is also preparing a special call for funds, which will have specific objectives and priorities. Being islanders, we are already plenty accustomed to the concept of borders, this call will target that, together with the use of New Media and Technologies in the design and implementation of projects. ACM has set up a specific section on its website for all things COVID-19 related:

Despite the social distancing, this is an excellent time to build local and foreign networks as well as conduct proper research; people have more time to read, properly consider and assess their options, which could still lead to meaningful collaborations in the near or distant future. And in the meantime, whilst mulling over some project or other, artists / creatives can write to us, call us, or log into Skype or other platform of choice and get in touch. Despite being the guardians of the funds, which sounds somewhat ominous admittedly, we are very human, yes we have super administrative and project management powers, but other than that, the opportunity for us to share in your projects, even at embryonic stage, is always a privilege. So please reach out, get in touch and discuss your fantastical dreams and aspirations, maybe we can help to make one or more of them come true.

Edward Hopper once said that “a nation’s art is greatest when it most reflects the character of its people.” Artists and creatives have always been among the most resilient of individuals. This time will not prove otherwise.

Photo Captions:

Social distancing, by Ritty Tacsum
The Lovers I by Rene Magritte
Office in a Small City by Edward Hopper.

Words by Lisa Gwen Andrews.