Published on Thursday 28 March 2024

Commissioned by Arts Council Malta, this year’s Pavilion showcases a concept by solo artist Matthew Attard.

In the realm of contemporary art, few events match the prestige and influence of the Venice Art Biennale. For its 60th edition, Malta, under the auspices of Arts Council Malta and the Ministry for National Heritage, the Arts, and Local Government, is set to captivate audiences with a solo show by Maltese artist Matthew Attard.

Titled I Will Follow the Ship, Attard's concept for the Malta Pavilion explores the interplay between human existence and the digital world, using historical ship graffiti as a starting point. The choice of subject matter—ancient ex-voto images created by seafarers and located on the facades of wayside chapels—is deeply rooted in Malta's rich maritime heritage. These images, a testament to faith and survival, serve as a poignant reminder of the island's historical dependence on the sea, as well as the broader human condition of navigating the unknown.

At the heart of Attard's project is a reflection on how these simple, yet profound, symbols can be reinterpreted through the lens of contemporary technology. By employing artificial intelligence and drawing technology, Attard seeks to bridge the gap between Malta's cultural past and its future, engaging viewers in a dialogue about the intersection of history, technology, and artistic expression.

Central to bringing this vision to life are co-curators Elyse Tonna and Sara Dolfi Agostini, whose backgrounds in the Maltese art scene and international curatorial practices respectively, bring a rich depth of perspective to the project. Their collaborative approach in weaving together cultural heritage and innovative technology promises a compelling narrative for the Malta Pavilion.

Foreigners Everywhere - This Year’s Biennale Theme

The theme of this year Biennale, Foreigners Everywhere, is curated by Adriano Pedrosa and offers a fitting backdrop for Attard's work. This discourse challenges us to consider our place in a world marked by migration, displacement, and the blurring of cultural identities. It prompts a reflection on the notion of belonging and the experiences of those who, historically marginalised, have been outsiders in the narrative of global culture.

Matthew Attard's approach to redrawing these ancient maritime symbols with modern technology is a powerful commentary on the evolving nature of artistic creation and perception. It is a gesture that acknowledges the enduring significance of these humble etchings, elevating them from their overlooked status to subjects worthy of international attention. In doing so, Attard's work resonates with the Biennale's overarching theme, highlighting the universal human experiences of hope, faith, and the search for meaning in an ever-changing world.

New Life To Traditional Practices

The Malta Pavilion promises to be a compelling showcase of how traditional cultural motifs can find new life and relevance through contemporary artistic practices. It stands as a testament to the vitality and innovation of Maltese art on the world stage, inviting viewers to contemplate the ways in which our shared heritage continues to shape our understanding of the world and our place within it.

Through the vision of Matthew Attard and the dedication of Arts Council Malta, will contribute to the global conversation on art, identity, and the human spirit in an increasingly digital age.

This year’s La Biennale di Venezia takes place between April 20 and November 24.