“Regaining a Paradise Lost The Role of the Arts”
APS Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale
The third edition of the APS Mdina Cathedral Contemporary Art Biennale was meant to be held between the 13th March and 18th April 2020. Thirty-three artists from around the world worked tirelessly to put together an innovative and engaging Biennale using digital tools to create some really effective contemporary art installations.
After weeks of preparations, curating, video editing and putting the whole installation together I was understandably very excited. Together with the other artists most of whom had traveled to Malta specifically for this event, we spent the 11th and 12th of March in Mdina Cathedral Museum setting up our works to have everything ready for the opening night the following day. Just as all the preparations were ready we received the news which none of us wanted to hear. The Biennale has been canceled!
Following the government’s ban on all public gatherings as a social distancing measure, the Museum was left with no choice and had to close its doors until further notice. As the country prepares for a total lockdown the chances of the museum opening and the Biennale seeing the light of day become even more remote. All the participating artists knew that canceling the biennale was amongst the toughest and hardest series of events the curator and team had to face. We felt a deep sense of frustration and disappointment but shared globally with so many other artists who have had their own events canceled globally, which is humbling.
This Biennale entitled “Regaining a Paradise Lost The Role of the Arts” aimed at exploring the relationship between spirituality and the environment, focusing on the links with the protection of the planet, all species, human or otherwise, and the notion of spirituality within this seminal debate.
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a bit about my installation called “AVARITA”. I know that my words can never replace the visitor experience of a multisensory digital installation but at least I will try to convey the message I wished to share through my art.
Avaritia is one of the seven deadly sins, together with pride, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. Greed is the artificial, rapacious desire and pursuit of material possessions. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “Greed is a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.”
In Dante’s Purgatory, the penitents are bound and laid face down on the ground for having concentrated excessively on earthly thoughts. Avarice, blurs the vision of a person who falls into its trap, having the poisonous mentality of doing anything or sacrificing anything, right or wrong to accrued the desire. Many of such persons could lie, slander, evil plot another person, injure, or even kill to fulfill their unbridled cravings!
The Biennale’s focus is on the relationship between spirituality and the environment. It is in this context that I look at AVARITIA as the new god which has taken over any other consideration with devastating results
on our planet. This greed-driven, insatiable wanting for more, results in destruction, “desolation, devastation”. This installation encourages the visitor to ponder on how they too are “Standing on the edge of the crater” watching the “mess we made, when it all went wrong”.
Very often we are passive observers ‘Watching from the edge of the circus”… waiting for the Armageddon. The state of affairs often cause us to feel “breaking up inside, A heart of broken glass, defiled”, and yet not all is
lost, there is still some hope as we stand “on the edge of the underworld, looking at the abyss…hoping for some miracle, to breakout, to escape from all this.” And that hope is brought about by Art which makes us think and
reflect, hopefully pushing us to act.
AVARITIA is setup in the very suggestive museum vaults, I recreated a location (similar to a chapel)where people can go to pray to their god. Yet the god of
this chapel is Avarice. A red carpet covered in blood-stained 100 bills leads to In the middle of the room where the visitor can kneel on a beautiful 17th-century kneeler to pray, adore or ponder about the god in the room. The god in the room is represented by a special 100 bill bloodstained by its close relationship to avarice. The bill is placed inside a modern mostrance
On the back of the wall behind the monstrance is a big wall projection showing a video production I will create to match the song by Mike
Oldfield — “Nuclear”. The words of this song fit exactly the message of my installation, where I am inviting visitors to ponder on the results of greed and the negative effects it is having on our planet.
It was a big pity that the Biennale was canceled yet I am still hopeful that maybe one day I would be able to physically share my installation to the public, for now, this is the best I can do. It is much better and wiser to stay indoors!
Take Care everyone!