At a press conference held at the Malta Maritime Museum, Owen Bonnici, Minister for National Heritage, Arts and Local Government announced that Maltese artist Matthew Attard shall represent Malta at the prestigious International Art exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia. The 60th edition of the Biennale di Venezia opens on 20 April 2024 until 24 November 2024. The Malta pavilion is commissioned by Arts Council Malta.
Minister Bonnici explained that established in 1895, La Biennale di Venezia, is a platform for the exhibition of the works of international artists and today it is recognized as one of the most prestigious international cultural institutions for the presentation and promotion of contemporary art.
He said that it will be the first time that the national pavilion will be entrusted to a single Maltese artist. He explained how Matthew Attard's project for the Malta Pavilion, 'I will follow the ship', explores ideas of human existence and survival at the point of convergence between history and the future, the physical experience and the digital input.
Mary Ann Cauchi, Director for Funding and Strategy within the Arts Council Malta, said that through Malta's participation in the Biennale, Arts Council Malta shall strengthen Maltese art and culture on an international level, as well as promote the creative and cultural sector. She said that Matthew Attard's exhibition will combine Maltese cultural heritage with artificial intelligence technology.
Ms Cauchi said that it is an honour for Arts Council Malta to be the commissioner and to give all its support to this very important event in the world of art and culture, and the Council will strive to continue to put Malta and its artists, on the international map.
Matthew Attard said that his solo performance entitled, 'I will follow the ship', consists of a new art commission that combines cultural heritage and cutting-edge AI technology. It shall be curated by - Italian-American curator Sara Dolfi Agostini and Maltese curator Elyse Tonna, both of whom are active in the Maltese art scene through various collaborations. Maria Galea and Galleria Michela Rizzo will take care of the management of the project.
Attard explained the concept behind 'I will follow ship’. He said that the meanings and values of the anonymous drawings of the seafarers are relevant to current our present times, where computer and internet technology have led to an artistic emancipation of the masses. The idea was conceived to catalyze the spectator's attention through a technological device that allows digital interaction and collective thought speculation about the future. In fact, the graffiti of the sea pieces are unique to Malta, but they echo many other cultures whose relationship with the sea was—and still is—crucial, as can be seen in the engravings of Venice itself. In a time of climate change, sea level rise, and questions about humanity's place in a hyper-technological world, these signs of hope, these elemental metaphors ingrained in the depths of human knowledge, find themselves in the middle of the Pavilion to reveal what is hidden behind the screens.
The members of the Evaluation Board were the Architect Adrian Mamo, the Artistic Director of the Manoel Theatre; Dr. Katya Micallef, Curator of MUZA; and Daniel Azzopardi, the Artistic Director of Spazju Kreattiv. The evaluation was chaired by Mary Ann Cauchi, Director within Arts Council Malta.