Where there is life, there are stories, connections, memories, and futures. Culture is an eminently portable thing, and once unpacked, a prism through which the identity of an individual, or a group, can be understood. Expressions of belonging, nostalgia, and faith are revealed in the language we speak, the food we share, the pastimes we pursue and the tokens or symbols we hold dear; even on foreign soil.

Named for the hardy, indigenous plant that clings to the rocky shoreline of the Maltese Islands, Sempre Viva is a new work drawn from material collected by artist and filmmaker Charlie Cauchi’s ongoing transmedia project Latitude 36. Focusing on the Maltese émigré experience, Cauchi has brought together an international roster of artists, participants, and collaborators to re-frame and re-evaluate questions surrounding identity, nationality, and perceptions of home.

At the invitation of the Maltese Foreign Office, Cauchi developed Sempre Viva as a site-specific installation and video work, aiming to bring the observations and recollections of an intergenerational Maltese diaspora to an audience in their homeland.

To leave home, and to make another somewhere else is an act fraught with uncertainty. Departure and the complexities of integration without losing a sense of self must be navigated; our birthplace and its culture is an inherent part of who we are, but does the concept and understanding of home remain wholly unchanged as life goes on? Moreover, how is it passed down to the next generation?

Reflective, rather than didactic in its pursuit, Sempre Viva is a three-screen projection of documentary footage shot in the homes, clubs, workplaces, and neighbourhoods of Maltese emigrants. By positioning a variety of locations in the UK (London, Stockport), the USA (Detroit, New York), Canada (Toronto, London, Ontario), and Tunisia (Tunis), side-by-side, Cauchi re-establishes a connection to Malta to share the collective experiences of those who have left. The exchange is informal and allows those who are Maltese-born, and their children who have inherited a culture, to relay their sense of who they are and where they come from in their own words.

Sempre Viva will be held in the Courtyard of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion in Valletta and is open from the 10-15 December 2018.

Sempre Viva is a project of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion and supported by the Valletta 2018 Foundation.