the coast, the Fossa area and its users
Refraction by Giola Cassar and Aprille Zammit
Triq l-Għajn, Valletta
installation, photography, screen printing
The notion of 'refraction’ is common to the many stories associated with the Fossa area. From early in their process, Giola and Aprille proposed a project that sought to bring together associations related to the coast of Valletta. Regular research sessions and meetings with boathouse owners enabled this team to focus on the recent development of the Fossa area, understanding its evolving dynamics. The artists’ work in the tunnel leading to the Fossa ultimately came to be a symbol to all its users, conveying different meanings to people.
Chips from Dolphin Kiosk, ħobż biż-żejt from the bars, fishermen and kaċċaturi, timber boathouses, fishing boats and buoys, niches adorned with santi, crabs for octopi.
The media used by both of the artists dictated a lengthy process of experimentation. Working collaboratively, Giola experimented with photographic still-life compositions representative of elements in the stories, whilst Aprille extracted patterns from the area to create screen printing templates. In addition to onsite conversations with community members, the artists carried out archival research, sifting through maps and photographs to identify changes to the coastal area across time.
These links, associations and histories were eventually represented through photography, whereby objects were first captured individually until a style was selected for the final still-life composition. All throughout, varied screen-printing approaches were used, from geographical iconography to more abstract patterns and rubbings, all extracted from the area itself. The nature of the work developed according to the parameters of the project, conditioned specifically by its final location and format. Print tests were carried out to identify how to print at a large scale on different materials. The work, its location and embodied meanings each symbolise the users, past and present, of the Fossa area.
“Here is where I am always happy”, we were once told. Starting from a small community of boathouse owners, the Fossa area is evident of a continuous flux of users. It is a point of intersection of many communities, uses, interests and memories.
'Refraction' is one of the installations which remained in its original location in Triq il-Għajn as a permanent installation.