Human and non-human communities.
Infrastructures of Care by Laura Besançon
St Charles Street, Valletta
Laura’s current practice aligned with her work for fuse in its focus on issues related to construction and transformation of space. In her work for the project, Laura had a goal to engage with local community members, asking about environmental changes to the physical context of the Biċċerija, as well as and the major developments that had taken place within their surroundings.
Observing the environs of the Biċċerija, it became more and more evident that this landscape was deeply influenced by the omnipresence of scaffolding – not just because of the rehabilitation works going on within the building itself, but also in relation to other buildings within the vicinity and in the streets themselves.
Lavori in corso. Cranes. Excavation. Unearthing. Services. Bobcat. Cats.
Wandering through the streets, we soon realised that native communities of cats had appropriated these structures, taking them as second homes. There seemed to be a strong, steady presence of cats in abandoned houses, taking refuge and occupying make-shift homes created by the human members of the Biċċerija community. Some residents were fully invested, taking meaningful responsibility for colonies of cats. A period of community engagement and observation followed and unfolded in two ways. On the one hand, we investigated the correlations and symbolisms associated with scaffolding structures, discovering that to some they bring hope, whilst to others they are fearsome structures causing a nuisance, most often related to the unknown. This duality existed equally in relation to the cat colonies and their links to the scaffolding.
Following this process of engagement and research, it became evident that the strongest location for this work was St Charles Street. As a photographer, Laura captured the Biċċerija cat colony and recreated scenes that they experienced on a daily basis. She then developed a composition that placed focus on scaffolding structures, decorating it with materials and accessories typically found on construction sites. The result was a structure that mediated between human and non-human communities, bringing to the forefront several aspects, both positive and negative, associated with processes of regeneration.
Parts of Laura's intervention were distributed among members of Carnival companies, to be used in the making of Carnival floats. Some photographic prints were distributed among local neighbours and residents.