What is Valletta 2018?
VALLETTA 2018: AN ISLAND-WIDE FESTA
WHEN YOU LIVE ON AN ISLAND, THE HORIZON ALWAYS HOLDS THE PROMISE OF NEW AND EXCITING CONNECTIONS TO BE MADE, WHILE THE SHORE DRAWS YOU BACK HOME TO A WEALTH OF DETAIL THAT’S JUST WAITING TO BE EXPLORED.
Malta and Gozo can be likened to tiny but vibrant stages packed with drama, excess and exuberance constantly playing out in close quarters, amid tight-knit communities; all the while, these small island scenarios have co-existed with the comings and goings afforded by our harbours, and today they walk alongside ever-growing international connections.
The strategic geography of the Maltese Islands – which places them right between Europe and Africa – thus puts our communities in a unique position to host such a diverse cultural celebration as the European Capital of Culture. And our Mediterranean style is another valuable feature of the islands’ identity, capable of reaching out to the varied and valuable perspectives that surround it.
VALLETTA 2018 THEMES
WHAT’S ISLAND LIFE REALLY LIKE, ANYWAY? WE MAY BE ABLE TO DRIVE ACROSS THE WHOLE OF MALTA OR GOZO IN A SINGLE MORNING, BUT IT DOESN’T MEAN WE’VE SEEN IT ALL. INDEED, A CLOSER LOOK AT ISLAND LIFE SOON REVEALS THAT THERE’S MORE THAN ONE NARRATIVE AT PLAY.
One side of the story goes that Malta and Gozo are small, loud, emotional islands where you can never escape your neighbour’s gaze and where your family’s always just around the corner bearing either good news, bad news, enough food for a week, or all three.
So living on our Islands is often seen as a domestic drama, with a dose of tragicomedy that’s hard to resist. The up-side to that view is that Malta, the largest island in our archipelago, also happens to be one of the most densely populated countries in the world – a fact that brings to the fore issues of over-crowding and a growing concern over space and what to do with it.
How to explore and reconcile the various narratives that play out in Malta and Gozo is a question that’s constantly evolving. Certainly, community spaces and the image of the open sea play a big role in our journey towards imagining better solutions – for when private spaces aren’t easy to come by, islanders turn to community spaces for company, and to the sea for air to breathe.
The narratives that Island Stories seeks to draw out portray vivid, timely pictures of life on our shores. They are stories about its realities, its communities and the spaces they use, of how old spaces are – or could be – used for new things, and of how to create new spaces inside which one may appreciate tradition.
FUTURE BAROQUE IS A WAY OF LIFE. IT’S AN EXTRAVAGANCE AND THEATRICALITY THAT’S PART AND PARCEL OF OUR DAILY RHYTHMS; IT MEANS COLOUR AND ORNAMENTATION, EXAGGERATED GESTURES AND ACTIONS. SPECTACLE IS THE CENTRAL PHILOSOPHY OF FUTURE BAROQUE
Our capital city, Baroque at heart, and layered with a succession of diverse stylistic interventions across time, is a backdrop which tells stories about our history and culture even when the hustle and bustle of daily activity won’t stop to listen.
Contemporary Valletta speaks the language of the Baroque as loudly as its architecture. Today, communities engage with the fabric of the city as it is developed and rethought across time, making it a stage where life and ideas are constantly evolving, settling and re-shaping themselves.
Future Baroque contains a kind of spirituality that’s suspended somewhere between the traditional and the contemporary. The backdrop of Valletta is enriched by the necessity of ritual; the colourful ornaments and banners that line the streets to celebrate our famous karnival and the capital’s own festi, or feasts, may boast of material riches, but they also create spontaneous soundscapes of revelry and joy.
Behind the clinking of jewellery and the honking of new cars, and in the blasting of loud speakers and the chanting of prayers through the streets, might reside our plain and simple tendency to make noise. But beyond this is a newer, ever- growing need that’s married to our old sense of spectacle – a need to make our voices heard over and above the noise of the city.
THANKS TO ITS HARBOURS, VALLETTA HAS ALWAYS BEEN A MELTING POT OF DIFFERENT CULTURES. MALTA’S ANCIENT HERITAGE, COMBINED WITH A STRATEGIC GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION THAT PLACES IT RIGHT BETWEEN EUROPE AND AFRICA, MAKE IT A UNIQUE CAPITAL CITY. IT’S A SPACE THAT’S ABLE TO HOST MEANINGFUL ENCOUNTERS WITH AND BETWEEN ITS CLOSE NEIGHBOURS, BOTH IN AND BEYOND THE MEDITERRANEAN.
Our capital is no stranger to surges of conflict and resistance: Valletta is a city surrounded by fortified bastions, built for warding off external attacks and for celebrating victory within. Even now, the city stands inside a wider global context that’s marked by growing political instability, and which brings into sharp relief issues of violence, exile and migration.
Valletta 2018 is an opportunity to celebrate life and creativity in our capital while nurturing vital dialogue; it provides a space in which to challenge dominant perspectives, and extends a hand of friendship to all artists and creatives. An openness to different cultures is vital for a healthy community, and as we strive to recreate a sense of belonging in an age of cultural diversity, we have the power to give diverse communities a platform for expression and the necessary networks to support meaningful exchange.