Arts Council Malta has announced that Raphael Vella and Bettina Hutschek will be the two artist-curators for the Malta Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia to be held between 13th May and 26th November 2017.
With their concept Homo Melitensis: An incomplete inventory in 19 chapters, the two artist-curators will present the Malta Pavilion as a poetic compilation of unique things that supposedly define the imaginary of the Maltese identity.
The exhibition will be designed in collaboration with an architectural team led by Tom Van Malderen (Architecture Project). A transmedia storyworld developed in collaboration with Stefan Kolgen will augment Homo Melitensis by creating an interactive and expanding online fictional space that communicates with, yet also transcends, the physical exhibition space in Venice.
Bettina Hutschek is a visual artist, filmmaker and curator who lives and works between Malta and Berlin. Raphael Vella is an artist, curator and educator based in Malta. Both have extensive curatorial and artistic experience and have exhibited their work internationally.
The international call for the engagement of a curator/curatorial team to curate the Malta Pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia 2017 was published by Arts Council Malta, in its capacity as Pavilion Commissioner, in collaboration with MUŻA (Malta’s National Museum of Fine Arts, Heritage Malta), under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice, Culture and Local Government.
A total of 22 applications were received in response to the open call; of these, 14 were deemed eligible. All the eligible projects were given the opportunity to pitch in front of the jury committee.
The winning project was unanimously selected by the jury committee, which included a mix of high profile international names and local expertise on the culture sector. The Jury Committee chaired by Albert Marshall, Arts Council Malta chair, was made up of the following members:
“I am delighted that Raphael Vella and Bettina Hutschek have been selected to curate Malta’s Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2017,” said Arts Council Malta chair Albert Marshall. “Their exploration of a concept related to identity promises to be relevant to both local and international audiences. Their project will also involve collaborations with other artists, ensuring that the Biennale also serves as a means to an end.”
In their first comments to the media after the announcement of the result, the two artist-curators stated they were honoured to be appointed curators with the proposal of Homo Melitensis. “It is not simply an exhibition about various elements of Maltese identity. It is also about the presentation of these elements in various social and international contexts; in other words, it seeks to show how cultural traditions are presented in public manifestations and internalised by a public. Given the self-critical as well as creative function, the role of the artist-as-curator as an agent of deconstruction of canons, traditions and the actual processes of public presentation is central to the proposed Malta Pavilion.”
Next year’s Malta Pavilion will see Malta officially returning to the Biennale di Venezia after an absence of 17 years. It has so far participated with a special exhibition of Maltese Artists in 1958 and a National Pavilion in 1999.
Malta’s Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia is one of the 70 actions which is being implemented as part of Strategy2020, Arts Council Malta’s five-year strategy for the cultural and creative sectors. It also formed part of government’s electoral programme.
The declared aim of the Malta Pavilion is to offer a platform through which Maltese contemporary artistic practices understood within the broadest sense of the term can be exposed, contextualised and presented to an international audience.
The Maltese Pavilion will also form part of the Cultural programme of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2017. The project will also bridge with the contemporary art programme of Valletta as European Capital of Culture in 2018.
ARTIST CURATORS’ BIONOTES
Bettina Hutschek is a visual artist, filmmaker and curator who lives and works between Malta and Berlin. After studying Art History and Philosophy (BA) in Florence and Augsburg, she received her MA from Universität der Künste (UdK) Berlin and her MFA in Fine Arts from HGB Leipzig. She trained and worked in Art Mediation and spent one year as Visiting Scholar at the Department of Performance Studies at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Bettina’s work has been exhibited internationally; since 2013, she is also founder and director of FRAGMENTA Malta, a project to organize pop-up exhibitions in the public space of the Maltese islands.
Raphael Vella is an artist, curator and educator based in Malta. He received his PhD in Fine Arts at the University of the Arts London and is an academic at the University of Malta, where he lectures in art education, practice and theory. He has exhibited his work internationally and has been active as curator since 2002, working with emerging and established artists in institutional as well as alternative settings both locally and internationally. He has initiated several artistic and educational projects, including the Valletta International Visual Arts festival (VIVA), the Curatorial School organised by Valletta 2018 and Divergent Thinkers organised by the youth agency Aġenzija Żgħażagħ.
The Jury Committee chaired by Albert Marshall (Chair, Arts Council Malta) included the following:
Fulya Erdemci is a curator and writer based in Istanbul. Erdemci curated international exhibitions such as the 13th Istanbul Biennial (2013), Pavilion of Turkey at the 54th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale (2011) and functioned as the co-curator in Biennials such as SCAPE, the 5th Biennial of Art in Public Space in Christchurch, the 2nd Moscow Contemporary Art Biennial (2007) and the 25th Biennale of São Paulo in (2002). She was the Director of SKOR (Stichting Kunst en Openbare Ruimte) Foundation for Art and Public Domain in Amsterdam (2008 – 2012). Erdemci has served on international advisory and selection committees, including MAXXI – the National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome (2014); the selection committee of the Berlin Biennial (2015); the selection committee of the Sonsbeek International (2015), the SAHA, Istanbul (2012-2013); "The International Award for Excellence in Public Art" initiated by Public Art (China) and Public Art Review (United States) May 2012; the 12th International Cairo Biennial, Cairo (2011); and De Appel, Amsterdam's, Curatorial Programme (2009 – 2011).
Alfredo Cramerotti is the director of MOSTYN Visual Arts Centre. He complements his work in Wales with active participation in the international visual art world. In the past years this has included co-curating pavilions at the Venice Biennale e.g. Mauritius (2015), Wales and Maldives (2013), directing Sequences VII art festival in Reykjavik and co-curating Manifesta 8, Region of Murcia (2010). He is in demand as Visiting Lecturer at major universities and art colleges throughout Europe and the Americas and is a significant figure within writing, broadcasting and publishing.
Vince Briffa is an artist and researcher. He produces gallery and site-specific artwork, objects and installations. Over the past thirty five years, Briffa’s work has been widely exhibited internationally, including the Venice Biennale (1999). As an academic, he is the Head of Department of Digital Arts at the University of Malta; an Associate of the Electronic and Digital Arts Unit (EDAU) of the University of Central Lancashire, an affiliate of the Centre for Moving Image Research, University of the West of England, Bristol, and a visiting academic at Contemporary Art Practice, Leeds University in the UK. He is also the external examiner for the Bradford Film School, Teesside University, UK.
Sandro Debono is a curator, art historian and academic. He is Heritage Malta’s current Senior Curator at the National Museum of Fine Arts and Project Lead for MUZA, the national-community art museum for Malta and flagship project for Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture title. He has published extensively on art related subjects and culture studies in general. Sandro is a regular visiting lecturer at the University of Malta, where he lectures in Visual Literacy and Museography. He has also lectured at and regularly collaborates with various European museums and institutions.
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