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Pavilion of Malta

60th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia: Artist and curators selected for the Malta pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2024

Maltese artist Matthew Attard shall be representing Malta at the prestigious 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. This will be the first time that the national pavilion will be entrusted to one Maltese artist. The solo show, entitled I will follow the ship and consisting of a new art commission weaving together cultural heritage and cutting-edge AI-driven technology, will be co-curated by Italian American curator Sara Dolfi Agostini and Maltese curator Elyse Tonna, both active in the Maltese art scene through several institutional collaborations.

From the left: Elyse Tonna & Sara Dolfi Agostini

Established in 1895, La Biennale di Venezia, a platform for the exhibition of works by international artists, is today acknowledged as one of the most prestigious international cultural institutions for the presentation and promotion of contemporary art. The 60th edition of the Biennale di Venezia will open on 20th April 2024 and run until 24th November 2024. 

The Sea: Linking Malta and Venice in a common destiny 

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 future, physical experience, and digital input. It originates from Attard’s latest explorations into AI and drawing technology, fused with his interest for historical images of ex-voto ship graffiti, vernacular iconographies which speak of ancient local tales of faith and salvation across the Mediterranean. Located on the facades of several wayside chapels on the islands, these ephemeral etchings in stone were possibly crafted by seafarers because of the religious significance and political immunity these buildings offered. 

The meanings and values of these anonymous ship drawings reverberate in our present times, where computer technology and the internet have propelled mass artistic emancipation and overturned traditional local centers of power. This is the point of departure of Attard’s project for the Malta Pavilion, conceived to catalyse the attention of the spectator via technological devices which allow for digital interaction and collective speculative thinking about the future. In fact, the ship graffiti are unique to Malta, yet resonates with many cultures whose relationship with the sea has been – and still is – crucial, as evidenced by Venice’s own such inscriptions. At a time of climate change, rising sea levels, and questions of people’s place in a hyper technological world, these humble marks of hope, root metaphors deeply embedded in human consciousness, drift in the middle of the Pavilion to reveal what hides behind screens and beliefs. 

With I WILL FOLLOW THE SHIP, Attard presents a platform to discuss notions of authorship and image-making in art, all while critically rethinking forms of agency and cohabitation to navigate the uncharted waters of the information society. 

The 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia – takes place in Venice, from the 20th of April until the 24th of November 2024. Preview: 17, 18, 19 April 2024. The Malta Pavilion taking place at The Arsenale is commissioned by Arts Council Malta.

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