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Reframing the Mediterranean Mode Malta Unveils a Call for its First International Art Biennale

Valletta, Malta. Photo courtesy of Heritage Malta

The biennial, or biennale as it is sometimes referred to, has become a flagship event; a magnetic sea that pulls in all types of players in contemporary art.

In simple terms, a biennial is a large exhibition held every two years, the first in 1895 in Venice, which is today the Mecca of biennials throughout the planet. Just as the 59th edition, Milk of Dreams drew to a close in 2022, the Mediterranean island-muse Malta announced its first call for an international biennial:

Grand Master’s Palace, Valletta. Photo courtesy of Heritage Malta is proudly presented by MUŻA, Heritage Malta and Arts Council Malta in cooperation with the Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade, VisitMalta, and Spazju Kreattiv. In this special debut edition, international artists are invited to create works that arch from the islands’ abundant history.

Directed by established Italian curator Sofia Baldi Pighi, 2024 will conjure some of the islands’ most cherished historic sites into venues for contemporary artistic expression. On an island  woven by centuries of complex cultural fabrics, from the Romans, Byzantines, Arabs to the Order of St. John, French and British, will engage and reflect on the overlooked narratives of history in order to catalyse new frames of being.

The title of the debut is aptly called: baħar abjad imsaġar taż-żebbuġ asking participants to engage with the core and edges of the geographic and cultural Mediterranean landscape. This small archipelago has played a crucial role throughout the pulls and pushes of history; unravelling and connecting different cultures into an idiosyncratic identity.

Fort St. Elmo, Valletta. Photo by Daniel Cilia

This islands’ identity is being challenged to find its ground in the world of existing histories of contemporary Western and non-Western art due to its periods of colonisation and peripheral location. Now, the will present under-explored narratives that form shared realities to stimulate an opening of alternative and informed conversations.

Individual artists and associate groups wishing to form part of Malta’s contemporary history of are asked to submit their proposals through the artists’ portal on’s website. Each artist or associated group selected is eligible to receive up to €13,000 of financial support for their project. Proposals are to be submitted by no later than noon (CET) on Friday 25th August 2023.

Each submitted project will then be analysed by a select team, which includes the president of the, the artistic director and the curatorial team of national and international critics, curators, architects and art dealers.

Fort St. Elmo
Ggantija Archaeological Park. Photo courtesy of Heritage Malta

This is an exciting and unique opportunity to see artworks and pavilions installed in heritage sites across the islands including forts, palaces and the unique megalithic UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The main exhibition will be set in the Grandmasters’ Palace in the 500 year old capital city of Valletta, a World Heritage City.

baħar abjad imsaġar tażżebbuġ seeks to reflect meaningfully on the predominant and overlooked narratives about the Mediterranean cultural landscape inherited from past generations. The first edition of promotes insight into the present and catalyses new encounters; enriching ideas about the future using venues of poignant historical relevance locally and internationally.

To submit and find out more information visit

Tal-Pilar church, Valletta 2nd November 2021 Photographer: Massimo Denaro
Inquisitors Palace, Vittoriosa. Photo courtesy of Heritage Malta

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