This project is supported by the Creative Communities Fund

Aditus Foundation

I was in Malta in 1969 when a shapely British tourist was arrested for wearing a bikini on the beach. A friend of mine knew the girl and sent a photograph of her wearing her bikini to the Daily Mirror. This was published on the front page with the whole ridiculous story. After this dose of publicity there were no further arrests and bikinis became common.”

Burning Bikinis takes its cue from the introduction of the bikini into Maltese seaside culture in the early 60s and the social and religious furore that surrounded it. The project reflects on this period in the light of female emancipation in Malta and the various actors that had and still may have a role today.

The project involves two phases:

Research: In-house research into the historical elements of main episodes and discussions surrounding the then controversial bikini, complemented by filmed in-depth interviews with Maltese people on their memories of that period of time.

Dissemination: The information gleaned from the above will be disseminated through newspaper articles, podcasts and video clips that will feature during a public panel discussion.

The idea of the project is to use the bikini, a seemingly frivolous piece of clothing, and to explore the social and cultural impact it had on Maltese society from a gender perspective.

The ultimate aim being for the community to reflect on recent history, to take stock of it and to make it their own and next to use those events to analyse the effect this had on gender roles and on female emancipation in Malta. Finally, the participants, readers, spectators will be made to consider what the status quo is 55 years later.