Homo Melitensis

Written by Thomas Büsch on . Posted in Events, Future Archive

2017 marks the official return of a Malta Pavilion to the Venice Biennale for the first time in 17 years. To celebrate this occasion and create an unparalleled experience, the two curators – Raphael Vella and Bettina Hutschek – have drawn on Maltese art from the past and pre­sent, juxtaposing historic items with contemporary.

The curators have selected artists of Maltese origin or based in Malta for their conceptual exhibition: Homo Melitensis: An incomplete inventory in 19 chapters.


By bringing together a collective of artists who work across a variety of mediums, they will present a playful, poetic compilation of unique artefacts that interpret and define the imaginative spirit of the Maltese identity: language, politics, history, myths, religion and gender.


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  • Chapter B will present works, objects and artefacts that show Malta's links with St. Paul. These fossils are all known by names related to this saint. The fossil of a giant white shark tooth (left) is known as St. Paul’s tongue.
  • Chapter E will display souvenirs and postcards that deal with a melancholic view of the past... (photo: Alexandra Pace)
  • Chapter GĦ repesents Gender and/or. Gilbert Calleja's photographic expose of the Maltese transgender community must make us reconsider: how important is it to know the final gender of a person?
  • Chapter H will present the various belief systems in Malta. This rosary can be read in different ways though. (Austin Camilleri, Rosary, 2002)

The artists included in the show offer a diverse array of styles, me­diums and topics, with contributions from: Joe Sacco, Karine Rougier, Roxman Gatt, Teresa Sciberras, Darren Tanti, Aaron Bezzina, David Pisani, Pia Borg, Austin Camilleri, John Paul Azzopardi, Gilbert Calleja, Adrian Abela, and the late satirical cartoonist Maurice Tanti Burlò (known as Nalizpelra).


The country’s presence at the prestigious international art exhibition in Venice marks the start of a major international programme of cultural activity by Malta, whose capital city, Valletta, will be the European Capital of Culture 2018.

Participation in this year’s Venice Biennale also takes place concurrently with the Maltese presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2017.


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