13 November 2017 - 07January 2018

13 November 2017 - 07January 2018

Malta_The APS Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale

By Eugen Berlo

As publisher of Arstler, the web-based fine and applied art magazine, I am pleased to announce that Renay Elle Morris, our editor of photographic and fine art development has been selected to exhibit her photographic images at The APS Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale to be held in Malta. The theme The Mediterranean: A Sea of Conflicting Spiritualties”will be on display in the magnificent baroque halls of Malta’s Mdina Cathedral_famed for its rich archive of paintings, sculptures, drawings and artifacts of the decorative arts, architectural fragments, and curios. The 2017-2018 edition is a large-scale contemporary art exhibition, and follows the success of 2015-2016 where it initiated a framework for artists, curators and researchers to work together to establish a creative space. With a global following, invitations have been sent to Maltese and international artists who have set in motion the development of new works that challenge artistic and political conventions.

The Mediterranean region encompasses various cultures and religions. From the interaction between East and West has emerged a history of conflicts and struggles that are represented by the powerful visual cultures of each diverse community. The contemporary political scenario emphasizes the need for the arts to respond to an era of crisis and destruction. Being at the centre of the Mediterranean, Malta is a significant place for such an artistic dialogue to be exposed and challenged. Furthermore, the city of Mdina was home to multiple faiths and artistic cultures.

The Mdina Biennale started as an exhibition of solely Catholic and religious art. The immensity of the contemporary world was somewhat ignored in favour for the personalised taste of a local few, in an attempt to always safeguard the status quo. The 2015-16 exhibition helped awaken the need for a new contemporary space to welcome both local and international artists. The past has seen great strides in the rejoicement of contemporary art, with several spaces or exhibitions being set up, and with Malta’s recent entry in the Venice Biennale after a long hiatus. Nonetheless, it is this aspect of one-offs that brings peril to the contemporary scene in Malta. The need for continuity, remembrance and vitalisation is at the core of the Mdina Biennale.

Within the remits of the Mdina Biennale, this space was transformed from just being a sphere of sanctimonious sentiment to encompassing the spirit of the new age, through the exhibition of local and foreign contemporary artists. Artists from Malta, Italy, UK, USA, Germany, France, Jordan, Israel, Poland, Lithuania, Georgia, Latvia, Greece, Australia, Portugal, Serbia, Russia, Austria and Lebanon will be participating.

Each artist has been assigned a particular space within the museum and will be developing projects that respond to its permanent collection and this year’s subject. Once again, an exhibit dedicated to Maltese modern artists will hang alongside medieval, baroque and contemporary artworks, bridging different eras and art historical periods by focusing on the overlapping nature of art across time. Frank Portelli and Esprit Barthet are the chosen artists of this year’s exhibition. As a prelude to the main event, an exhibition of nude figure drawings by the Maltese twentieth-century artist and designer Giuseppe Galea was held from 7th-31st October.

“As the only American artist to be chosen to participate in this important exhibition, I will present six large-scale photographic images, ethereal in nature, that I believe capture the essence of the theme of this year’s Biennale. The photographing of the great seas has led me to discover the richness of this earth’s treasure, and of the passion of its ancient and current passengers.”_Renay Elle Morris

The APS Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale is under the artistic direction of Dr Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci with a curatorial team led by Nikki Petroni. APS Bank is the main partner. The exhibition endeavours to bring out the past with the marriage of the present and future. It is this duality, of both idea and space, which allows the APS Mdina Biennale to take ownership of a new style of curatorship, dialogue and commemoration.

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