Valletta 2018’s major multi-site exhibition, “Dal-Baħar Madwarha”, opens its doors to curious visitors across the Islands starting from the 10th of March. Curated by Maren Richter, large installations, performances and public interventions are taking place in both traditional and unexpected locations across Malta, exploring the idea of “islandness” in playful and critical ways.

The Examinations Centre is a place of memory for most of the Maltese. This exhibition, made up of commissioned and existing works by Maltese and international artists deals with the sea as a place of memory, romanticism, global trade of goods as well as mobility, voyage and displacement. This exhibition is open from the 25th March to the 27th of May 2018.

The Examinations Centre is open from Tuesdays – Sundays from 11am to 7pm (Last admittance 6.30PM). Closed on Mondays.

Commissioned works:

Heba Y Amin: [OPERATION SUNKEN SEA]

A fictive office that explores colonial omnipotentia by initiating a large-scale infrastructural intervention through the draining and rerouting of the Mediterranean Sea to converge Africa and Europe into one supercontinent. Heba Y Amin is an Egyptian visual artist, researcher and lecturer based in Berlin, whose work engages with narratives of national sovereignty, often in contested territories and questions methodological assumptions embedded within Western historiography.

Héla Ammar: Why do you ask?

In preparation of this video installation, Ammar spent six months working with young men in Tunis, who do not have passports, asking questions that no one ever asks, and exploring the absent image/subject as site of politics and trauma. Héla Ammar is a Tunisian based visual artist, whose photographs and installations address the stakes of memory, with identity often at the centre of her concerns.

Bettina Hutschek: Aljotta

In this video installation, an island’s sleepy routine is ruptured when the inhabitants’ traditional fish soup, or ‘Aljotta’, suddenly causes them to do and say unexpected things, uncovering a surreal process of memory transfer. Bettina Hutschek is a visual artist and videographer. In her works she uses fragments of different realities to tell stories.

Raphael Vella: Arċipelagu

With one question – ‘Is an island a place one escapes to or escapes from?’ – Vella invites emerging artists from different Mediterranean Islands to share experiences about island life in this visual collage of objects and ideas. Raphael Vella is an artist, educator and curator based in Malta, who has exhibited works in international exhibitions and venues including the Venice Biennale and Modern Art Oxford.

Gilbert Calleja: Lampara

Undertake a voyage with the filmmaker and Marsaxlokk fishermen in this sound installation, where trials, joys and tribulations play out on the ‘Joan of Arc’, a family boat where passengers live by the ‘lampara’ fishing method in international waters. Gilbert Calleja is a Maltese documentary filmmaker and artist, whose main intention of his artistic practice is a long-term engagement with protagonists of his film.

Fernando Sánchez Castillo: Monument

Through drawings and a maquette, this installation explores collective memory, inviting communities to discuss what a monument for Malta should represent and memorialise in the present moment. Fernando Sánchez Castillo often uses the concept of creating monuments in order to investigate the relationship of history and politics, art and power, public space and collective memory.

Existing works:

Lida Abdul: What we have Overlooked

Filmed in Abdul’s home country of Afghanistan, the images follow the descent of a man slipping deeper into a body of water; a poignant meditation on identity, homeland, exile, and political resistance. Lida Abdul lives and works in both Kabul and Los Angeles. Her work is driven by the situation of over more than two decades: that of physical and emotional destruction of her country.

Adrian Paci: Column

A pretext for a poetic voyage between East and West, the video follows the transformation undergone by a piece of marble from its extraction at a quarry to the long weeks of transport. Adrian Paci is an internationally acclaimed Albanian artist, who escaped violent riots in Albania in 1977 and took refuge in Italy. Being at a crossroads underlines all of his work, which deals with migration, flux and identity.

Wael Shawky: Al Araba Al Madfuna III

Inspired by Shawky’s own visit to the village of Al Araba Al Madfuna, this video installation deals with children reenacting the unearthing of an archaeological site while speaking the parables of Egyptian writer Mohamed Mustagab’ Dayrout al-Shareif. Wael Shawky is one of the most influential artists of the Middle East, who uses a variety of media such as film, drawing, photography and performance to investigate and analyze the real and imaginary histories and narratives of the Arab world.

Antoine Cassar: Map of the Mediterranean

A poem from Cassar’s publication, Map of the Mediterranean (Għaqda tal-Malti, 2013), describes the shapes of the Mediterranean Sea as seen from all four cardinal directions, in relation to the history of its peoples. Antoine Cassar is a Maltese poet, translator, editor, cultural organiser and creative activist for migrants’ rights and universal freedom of movement.

Aaron Bezzina: Caput

Curious piles of clay heads rest on top of each other in this site-specific installation; a commentary on the deadly ‘results’ of the political machinations of war and the anonymity of people erected as heroes. Aaron Bezzina is a young Maltese sculptor, who comments about life and its complex of rules and governance with his objects and machines.

Center for Political Beauty: The Bridge

This fictional infrastructure campaign proposes to build a structure called the Jean Monnet Bridge, a link between Tunisia with Sicily that would allow refugees from North Africa to safely enter the European Union. German Collective Center for Political Beauty establish moral beauty, political poetry and human greatness while aiming to preserve humanitarianism.

Embassy for the Displaced/Scan Lab/Stefanos Levidis: Where Land meets Sea

An investigation into the phenomenon of the ‘migrant corridor’ of the Greek Islands, which have become the unofficial ‘gate’ for refugees crossing into Citadel Europe, and where physical and social space are under constant negotiation. Embassy for the Displaced, a temporary collective, along with British 3D imaging studio Scan Lab, made a 3D scan of the coast – a haunting 3D video that highlights the island’s crucial role as a stop on a long migratory journey into Europe.

Works in Public Space and Examinations Centre

Kristina Borg: No Man’s Land

This installation will be part of Borg’s research for the trips she will design; it is a drawn route through No Man’s Lands in Malta alongside excerpts of interviews with people. Kristina Borg is a Maltese artist and educator, using participatory practices to tackle issues of space and society, communities and neighbourhoods.

transparadiso: Times of Dilemma

transparadiso will place a megaphone in the Examinations Centre. This work uses local tradition of għana singing to address and invite the audience to participate and interact. transparadiso is a collective initiated by artist Barbara Holub and architect and urbanist Paul Rajakovics, and operates in between architecture, art, urban design and urban intervention.

Fleeting Territories: Mapping Malta Part 2

A room installation reflects research on the flow of migration, the flow of money and the inscribed territorial thinking. Fleeting Territories is a temporary collective by Austrian artists Sabine Bitter, Helmut Weber, Klaus Schafler and Swedish researcher Jonathan Habib Enquist.

Tania El Khoury: Sejjaħ lil Malta

An immersive journey that channels our changing perception of the Mediterranean Sea, where visitors travel on traditional Maltese water taxi boats while pressing seashells collected from the shores of Sousse, Tunisia, to their ears. The sound piece can be listened to in the Examinations Centre. Lebanese artist Tania El Khoury creates interactive installations in which the audience is an active collaborator.

Manaf Halbouni: Uprooted

One of Manaf Halbouni’s card will be placed in the gallery space inside the Examinations Centre. Syrian born Manaf Halbouni lives and works in Germany, and gained fame with an artwork titled “Monument”, an installation made of three upturned buses in Dresden, Germany.