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Artists: Victor Agius, Aaron Bezzina, Tom van Malderen, Laura Besancon, Giola Cassar & Aprille Zammit, Text Catalogue & Andrea Zerafa, Chakib Zidi & Fatima AM & Noah Fabri, Samuel Ciantar

Curator, Artistic Director and Project Manager: Elyse Tonna

Production Manager: Raffaella Zammit
Research Assistants: Aidan Celeste, Kurt Calleja (until November 2020), Claude Ebejer (November 2020 - July 2021)
Production Assistant: Jamie Barbara

Produced by the Valletta Cultural Agency as part of the Agency's Cultural Programme 2021

curatorial framework

“Identity fusion is a relatively unexplored form of alignment with groups that entails a visceral feeling of oneness with the group. This feeling is associated with unusually porous, highly permeable borders between the personal and social self.[1].


Fuse(noun) is about combining elements to form one whole through the process of fusion (verb).

It is a multilayered project fusing artist to community (or the lack of), community to community and communities to their surroundings.

Put simply, fusion is a combination of two core nuclei into one; the most complex of processes sufficient to sustain the universe around us. From sociological and anthropological perspectives, the fusion of individuals enables group identities to develop and communities to grow, the latter being a consequence of internal processes based on various aspects such as rationalisation, social movements, modes of production and classes, amongst others.

‘Beltin’ residing in Valletta.

‘Beltin’ from Valletta residing outside Valletta.

Non- ‘Beltin’ residing in Valletta.[2]

‘Beltin’ – ‘beltin’ who?

People’s sense of who they are is based upon what group they assimilate with, or rather, fuse with. Perceptions of shared attributes vary on the type of relationships and characteristics shared between members of a group, where fusion can be both local and/or extended. Consequently, processes of social categorisation, social identification and social comparison are known to take place whereby individuals ultimately define and/or adopt and/or defend their group identities.


What communities exist[3] around the Old Abattoir? What do they consider as characteristics that define them? What brings them together, or drifts them apart?

What are the inherent group identities of this subpopulation of ‘Beltin’?

[*years//Belti; *familyties; *religion; *footballclub][4]


Members of communities derive aspects of their identity from membership of particular social groups. Social identities ultimately occur when these are internalised.

From an ethological perspective, fission-fusion societies central to ecological studies, communities are very much dependent on the environment that surrounds them. Spatiotemporal contexts are thus considered as indispensable variants determining and developing group identities. And thus, communities develop, they shrink, or grow - and adapt. The existence of a community in a certain time within a given space and the constant interaction between the individuals and their surroundings leads to spatiotemporal fusion. It is this process that leads to the perception of a sense of belonging.

What was their perception of the idea of the Valletta Design Cluster? How has it changed? How could it change? What have they lost? What have they gained? What do they need?

What do they want?


Fuse(object of art) is about combining elements to form one whole through the process of fusion (methodology).

Just as communities have traits of identity fusion within their relationships among one another, similarly they develop an identity fusion with the object of art, or fuse; a product of their own community, a result sustaining their social identity.

How will they respond to the artist? What relationship will they develop?

What will they create?

Fuse, around the Valletta Design Cluster, through fusion, will install an object of art wherever it may be required, each part interlinking and coexisting within a collective whole. Rather than simply placing a object in an understudied spatiotemporal context, fuse is from initial processes, a fusion of the community and location it is placed at; a fusion of the characteristics of the group identities; a fusion deep rooted and evolving in the environment from which it has been initiated, developed, produced and located. And ultimately, whether it will stay or leave is ultimately dependent on how much it will fuse.


Fuse is not only an object of art. And fusion, is not simply a superficial process of assimilating the fuse with its associated community.

And if all fusion fails, a fuse is after all a safety device, a temporary measure easily disconnected, protecting the wider whole.


[1] Swann, William & Jetten, Jolanda & Gómez, Angel & Whitehouse, Harvey & Bastian, Brock. (2012). When Group Membership Gets Personal: A Theory of Identity Fusion. Psychological review. 119. 441-56. 10.1037/a0028589

[2] As per Valletta 2018 study.

[3] They may not necessarily reside but merely hang out there. Communities may not necessarily be human.

[4] An algorithm will be developed (amended as per eventual research) to derive intrinsic qualities of how the subpopulation of ‘Beltin’ around the Old Abattoir characterises itself.

sketches and illustration by Elyse Tonna

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