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Victor Agius

Victor Agius selected for the 61st edition of the prestigious Premio Faenza in Italy

EARTH RITUALS, PREMIO FAENZA by Victor Agius. Photo by Daniel Cilia

Victor Agius’s ceramic installation was recently selected to be one of the 58 shortlisted entries – out of 538 international submissions from 62 nations – in the prestigious international award Premio Faenza, organised by The International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza, Italy. Since 1938, Premio Faenza Biennale has been showcasing international ceramic sculptures by contemporary artists such as Lucio Fontana, Leoncillo Leonardi, Fausto Melotti, Angelo Biancini, Pietro Melandri, Carlo Zauli, Eduard Chapallaz and Sueharu Fukami, amongst others. The final exhibition at the museum was originally planned to happen in 2020, but due to the pandemic was held virtually between January and March 2021 accompanied by weekly live artist-curators talks on the official Museum’s YouTube channel.

Victor Agius selected work, EARTH RITUALS, is an installation made from glazed stoneware ceramics, terrarossa assemblage, concrete bricks, documentation stills on screen, and sound. This immersive work measures 180x180x140cm and deals with humanity’s relationship with mother earth. Victor Agius’s works have an intimate connection with earth, committed to present it in its pure form. His research stems from his ecological experience and his archaeological approach around formless matter.

Agius lives and works just a few metres away from the pre-historic sites of Ġgantija Temples and the Xagħra Stone Circle (c.3,600 B.C.) on the Mediterranean island of Gozo, Malta. He roams the island like a nomad documenting its rituals and collecting clay and earth from excavations made continuously by construction companies. His local familiar landscape is treated as his materia prima to elicit universal existential themes. The circle of terrarossa from which the formless, organic ceramic sculptures rise, speak of the cyclic rituality of birth, life, death and regeneration. The crude materiality of clay – the product of geological time alludes to how we are both part of nature and its consumer.

This immersive installation, whose shamanic gesture puts the primordial matter of terrarossa and clay in confrontation with cement and concrete the symbols of the modern world, exposes our fragile existence in the Anthropocene. The catalogue published for this Biennale also featured a happening that Agius performed in July 2020 with earth, terrarossa and his body during the partial Covid-19 lockdown at Ġgantija Temples in Gozo, with the support of Heritage Malta, The Gabriel Caruana Foundation, Elyse Tonna and photographer Daniel Cilia.

An illustrated catalogue published by Gli Ori titled 61 Premio Faenza Biennale Internazionale della Ceramica d’Arte Contemporanea – special edition features the majority of the shortlisted artists and their works including the works of Victor Agius. It is edited by the Museum Director, Dr Claudia Casali, with essays by Prof. Judith Schwartz – New York University, MIC guest curator Dr Irene Biolchini, contemporary art curator Frederic Bodet, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art of Milan, Alberto Salvadori, and Director of European Ceramic Workcentre in the Netherlands Ranti Tjan. Amongst the other participating international artists in this edition, were names like Corvi-Mora Tommaso (Italy), Aguilera Lester Sofía (United Kingdom), Zhu Binji (China), Loredana Longo (Italy) and Alessandro Neretti (Italy).

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