human matter

Palazzo de la Salle, Valletta (2017)

Artists: Vince Briffa, Caesar Attard, Raphael Vella, Paul Scerri, Victor Agius, Kane Cali, Aaron Bezzina, Joe Smith, John Paul Azzopardi, Giola Cassar, Sabrina Calleja Jackson, Elisa von Brockdorff, Jesmond Vassallo, Robert Zahra, Ritty Tacsum, UoM Digital Arts and Architecture Students

Curators: Elyse Tonna, Roderick Camilleri, Joe Philippe Abela


Supported by: Malta Society of Arts

curatorial note

Scientists demarcate the history of the planet’s life into a number of epochs represented by obscure terms such as the Pleistocene, the Pliocene and the Miocene. In theory, we are living in the Holocene era; yet it may be better to call the last eon as the Anthropocene epoch - the epoch of ‘Human Matter’. During these last thousands of years, mankind has been the most significant agent to voice its presence. Never has a single species affected the fabric of organic existence and environment all by itself.

The quickening of man’s abilities has brought with it a new realm which we call reality. Such reality is characterised by a complex manifold of different networks of relationships and meaning, creating and re-forming the context of existence. Artists are usually those who tease out these elusive aspects of reality, which may, when fused with invention, bring forth something that we can identify as art. This collective exhibition by various established, as well as promising local artists, sums up particular inquiries and reflections about life and being.

One can engage with different visual metaphors about human existences. The artworks presented by these artists confront its audience with a series of creative ‘dislocations’ or dialogues meant to be insightful, enjoyable, and in equal measure, thought-provoking - jolting us out of our complacency to reflect about important existential features which are usually overlooked or belittled by our everyday routines.

The exhibition presents works which shed light on various aspects, some emphasising the precious value of the ecological and geological context of the Maltese islands and its cyclical sources of life.  Others, construe human matter in terms of the corporeal entity - the body and its organs. The corporeal constituent acts as the initiation of meaningful connotations, identifications and attributes that characterise our existence as humans.

Human Matter is also expressed in terms of bionic life, technology and cyberspace. Some installations portray categories of time and space. Such works present visual data in a fractured sequential flow, alluding to ‘alter-presence’ and the production of different time-frames. Other artworks highlight public divide and social politics creating a representation of the never-ending loss of identity.

A sense of hope and transcendence, however, is also mediated through imageries and traits, permeating an attempt for the ‘therapy process’, extending narratives that bring forth a way to accept existential mysteries beyond our understanding.

The appeal of this exhibition reverberates subtle reflections, casting perspectives on problems and difficulties propagated by human existence. As much as it is an event highlighting artistic quality, it is also an attentive discourse leading to the assertion of profound questions revolving around the meaning of life and its future sustenance.

photos by Luca Tufigno and Alexandra Pace